Foreign Minister Bishop responds to Australia World Cup boycott talk


After sweating their way through the longest FIFA World Cup qualification route in their history, Foreign Minister Julie Bishop sparked panic that there was the possibility of Australia not attending June's tournament.

The Australian government is stepping up diplomatic action against the European nation, expelling two Russian diplomats - believed to be undeclared spies - as part of a coordinated global response to a poisoning episode in the United Kingdom earlier this month.

And in response to questioning on Tuesday, Bishop suggested a further escalation was yet possible.

"There are a whole range of options of further actions that could be taken. The World Cup is one of the further actions," Bishop said.

But in a relief for Socceroos fans, the prospect of the team not attending the tournament is remote, and Bishop's statement was later clarified on social media.

What's more likely is that the Australian government joins the UK in a "state boycott" of the event, where no political leaders travel to Russia.

British Prime Minister Theresa May has announced no ministers or royal family members will attend official events, including the opening ceremony, at the tournament.

Iceland, which will compete for the first time at the global showpiece after its surprise qualification, have followed suit.

A report from London newspaper The Sun suggests Australia are one of a number of countries that are likely to join this action.

FIFA - who are is currently investigating Football Federation Australia over its governance structures - would expel and punish Australia should the Socceroos not attend.

It's one of many reasons why the prospect of the Socceroos not heading to Russia is infinitesimal.

"Football Federation Australia respects the Australian government's responsibility to make decisions about diplomatic and international relations," an FFA spokesperson said. 

"As things stand all qualifying teams, including the England team, will be taking part in this FIFA event and that continues to be our intention."

Australia has long-running sanctions in place against Russia, but it did not prevent the Socceroos from attending last year's FIFA Confederations Cup.

Ange Postecoglou's side needed 22 matches in 12 different countries to finally seal a place in Russia.

Now under Bert van Marwijk's tenure, the Socceroos are in action on Wednesday morning (AEDT) in their latest international friendly match against Colombia in London.

Source AAP