Boris Johnson says Putin 'treating FIFA World Cup like Hitler's Olympics'

By @saihoops on
2018 FIFA World Cup
Official poster of the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia FIFA.com

In a sensational claim, British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson has compared Russian President Vladimir Putin's handling of the 2018 FIFA World Cup to Adolf Hitler's use of the 1936 Summer Olympics as a propaganda vehicle for his administration. Putin was recently re-elected to his fourth term as President of Russia.

In the aftermath of the poisoning of ex-spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter, Britain has decided against sending royals or government ministers to Russia for the upcoming soccer World Cup. However, the English team will compete at the event despite Britain's growing angst towards Putin's administration.

"I think the comparison with 1936 is certainly right. I think it's an emetic prospect, frankly, to think of Putin glorying in this sporting event," Johnson said while speaking to the Parliament's Foreign Affairs Committee on Wednesday (Thursday AEDT). The comparison was initially made by a Labour politician.

Despite the tensions, thousands of English fans are expected to travel to Russia for the soccer's showpiece event. Though the Britain Foreign Office has yet to advise fans against travelling to Russia, Johnson said they are monitoring the situation closely. 

"It is up to the Russians to guarantee the safety of England fans going to Russia. It is their duty under their FIFA contract to look after our fans. We are watching it very, very closely. At the moment we are not inclined actively to dissuade people from going because we want to hear from the Russians what steps they are going to take to look after our fans," the British Foreign Secretary added.

Johnson revealed that the embassy has already received 24,000 applications from English fans to attend the 2018 FIFA World Cup. It received a whopping 94,000 applications at the same stage for the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

"The numbers are well down but that does not mean we are not deeply concerned about how they may be treated. My challenge to the Russian authorities is to show how the 24,000 UK applicants for tickets to the football World Cup are going to be well treated, are going to be safe."

The 2018 FIFA World Cup will get underway in Russia starting June 14 and conclude on July 15. Germany, soccer’s reigning world champions, are the overwhelming odds-on favourites to hoist the trophy for a second consecutive time.