July 9, 2018 / 7:33 PM / 10 months ago

'Come to Russia,' FIFA ambassador tells England fans

FIFA World Cup Ambassador and former Miss Russia Victoria Lopyreva smiles during an interview in Moscow, Russia July 9, 2018. REUTERS/Catherine Koppel

MOSCOW (Reuters) - Victoria Lopyreva, glamorous ambassador for the soccer World Cup in Russia and a former Miss Russia, urged England fans on Monday to ignore politics and travel to Moscow to support their team in Wednesday’s semi-final against Croatia.

The number of England fans in Russia has been low amid diplomatic tension over the poisoning of a Russian former double-agent and his daughter, and now the death of a woman who police say was poisoned with the same nerve agent.

There were also fears before the tournament that there could be violence or racism, although no major incident has been recorded.

“Soccer is separate from politics because people who work in politics should concentrate on politics, and people who work in soccer should concentrate on soccer,” Lopyreva, briefly married to Russia striker Fyodor Smolov, said in an interview.

“And now I want to say to English fans: ‘Guys, get it together, come to Russia and support your national team because they have gotten into the semi-final’,” she said.

The match will be England’s first World Cup semi-final since 1990.

Reporting by Reuters TV; writing by Tom Balmforth; Editing by Kevin Liffey

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