German politicians reject calls for World Cup boycott over ex-spy poisoning

Source: Xinhua| 2018-03-28 19:31:40|Editor: Shi Yinglun
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BERLIN, March 28 (Xinhua) -- Leading German politicians rejected international calls on Wednesday to boycott the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia in reaction to the poisoning of ex-spy Sergei Skripal in Britain.

"I am against a political boycott of the football world cup in Russia," Norbert Roettgen, president of the parliamentary foreign policy committee, told German magazine Der Spiegel.

Roettgen said that there had already been a "strong international reaction" to the alleged poisoning of Skripal and that Western governments should now refrain from further "escalation."

He said sports should always be a final resort in the "catalogue of consequences" because of its importance for intercultural dialogue.

Juergen Hardt, a senior lawmaker in Chancellor Angela Merkel's Christian Democrat party, told Der Spiegel on Wednesday that boycotts of international sports events were not a "smart instrument of diplomacy."

Free Democratic Party foreign policy spokesperson Bijan Djir-Sarai similarly warned against the risk of a "spiral of escalations."

Earlier, Berlin had joined 23 other Western countries, including the United States and 16 European Union (EU) member states, in ordering a total of 137 Russian diplomats to return to their home country. The government was subsequently criticized by politicians from across the political spectrum for having made the unprecedented decision prior to the conclusion of an independent investigation into the Skripal case.

German Social Democrat politician and former EU Commissioner Guenter Verheugen said in the newspaper "Augsburger Allgemeine" that Berlin's decision had been made on the basis of assumptions rather than facts.

"The argumentation in the Skripal case reminds me of a court verdict in which the defendant is found guilty not because his guilt could be proven, but merely because the crime which he is accused of is believed to fit his character," Verheugen said.