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Latin American Leaders to Come to Russia World Cup Despite Skripal Case - Moscow

© Sputnik / Alexei Danichev
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MOSCOW (Sputnik) - Not a single Latin American leader has changed their mind about coming to the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia over the so-called Skripal case, Director of the Department of Latin America of the Russian Foreign Ministry Aleksander Shchetinin told Sputnik.

Former Russian intelligence officer Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia were poisoned in Salisbury in March. London insists Moscow is responsible for the attack on UK soil, a claim Russia vehemently denies.

"No, they didn't [change their mind]… A number of Latin American leaders have already expressed their interest in coming to the World Cup. Some did this publicly, for example, the President of Argentina. I think that at this stage it would be wrong to put others under pressure from those who had chosen to plot against the World Cup using the Skripal case. We are confident that football, just as any sport, should be left out of politics," Shchetinin said.

According to the diplomat, Moscow is convinced that "those who come to the tournament will benefit more than those who choose to boycott it."

Shchetinin added that a lot of high-ranking politicians and ordinary football fans from Latin America were expected to come to Russia for the World Cup.

"I think every city, where [Latin American] teams will play, will learn a lot about their culture, because the joy and emotions of such sporting events are far more precious than the malicious intent to sabotage it," Shchetinin said.

Following the incident in Salisbury, a number of EU countries as well as the United States, Canada, Norway and Ukraine expelled Russian diplomats while UK and Icelandic authorities said they would boycott the 2018 World Cup matches in Russia.

Russia will host its first-ever World Cup from June 14 to July 15 with the matches set to be played at 12 arenas across 11 cities.

Related:

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2018 FIFA World Cup, Latin America, Russia
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