LONDON: A remarkable plea for England to be pulled out of the World Cup in Russia over the spying row has been issued by a former former football manager of Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich writes KEIR RADNEDGE.

Christian Purslow, 54-year-old former managing director of the Premier League champions, said in a letter to The Times that said a boycott by the UK and western allies “would show what the world thought” of the regime of President Vladimir Putin.

Purslow proposed that France, Germany and Spain should also boycott the tournament in a gesture of support after the nerve agent attack on former double agent Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia in Salisbury 10 days ago. Both remain in critical condition.

He proposed: “If Europe’s three leading football nations who bookmakers expect to be semi-finalists in the World Cup — Germany, France and Spain — were to decide that an unprovoked nerve agent attack by Russia on a Nato ally merited joining England in a boycott it would destroy the credibility and attraction of the tournament and hurt Putin’s popularity more than any economic or diplomatic sanction.

“Our government could not target a measure which would be better guaranteed to make clear to the Russian people what their leader is up to and what right-thinking citizens of the world feel about it.”

Johnson confusion

Foreign Minister Boris Johnson originally hinted at a World Cup boycott but this was played down by the office of Prime Minister Theresa May. However Ministers and FA president the Duke of Cambridge will stay away.

Purslow was appointed by Chelsea in 2014 to oversee the club’s global commercial activities and secured the club’s biggest sponsorship with a £60m-a-year, 15-year kit contract with Nike. He also secured a £40m-a-year shirt sponsorship with Yokohama, the Japanese tyre maker.

Previously Purslow had been chief executive of Liverpool from 2009 to 2011.

The Russian government has denied any involvement in the Skripal attack which has prompted tit-for-tat departure orders for diplomatic staff in London and Moscow as well as the shutting down of British Council work in Russia.

Labour MP Stephen Kinnock has suggested that FIFA should postpone the World Cup until 2019 and then stage it elsewhere. The impracticality of the idea has met a wide degree of derision from political and sporting circles.