Boycott of World Cup in Russia 'would not change things' - German FA
The German FA (DFB) has spoken out against a boycott of the World Cup in Russia this summer amid the European Union's tense relationship with the host country over the handling of the poisoning of a former Russian spy in the United Kingdom and the ongoing war in Syria.
Sergei Skripal, 66, and his 33-year-old daughter, Yulia, remain in a critical condition after they were exposed to what U.K. authorities have described as a "nerve agent" in the English city of Salisbury earlier this month.
"The DFB banks on dialogue rather than boycott," president Reinhard Grindel told Bild. "Bridges between the people must overcome the wars of the powerful. A boycott would not change things. And moreover, [the Olympic] Games in South Korea have shown that sport can de-escalate and bring nations together."
Speaking to Munchener Merkur, DFB vice president Rainer Koch added: "Already, the 1980 Olympic Games in Moscow showed that a boycott won't change political wrongs."
German chancellor Angela Merkel has asked Russia for "quick answers to warranted questions by the U.K. government."
Russia's dealings in Syria have also been criticized in Germany, and EU sanctions against Russia in response to the annexation of Crimea remain intact.
Last week, U.K. foreign secretary Boris Johnson said that "it will be very difficult to imagine that U.K. representation [at the World Cup] will go ahead in the normal way" if Russian involvement in the poisoning of Skripal was proven.
And on Monday, British Prime Minister Theresa May said that Russian involvement in Skripal's poisoning was "highly likely."
Stephan Uersfeld is the Germany correspondent for ESPN FC. Follow him on Twitter @uersfeld.