The former Managing Director at Chelsea FC – which is owned by Russian oligarch Roman Abramovich – has called on World Cup favourites to boycott the event.
Christian Purslow said England and European football heavyweights should take a stand following the use of a military-grade nerve toxin to target an ex-Russian spy in the city of Salisbury.
In a letter to The Times, the 54-year-old said a boycott would diminish the standing of Russian President Vladimir Putin widely accused of ordering the hit on Sergei Skripal and his daughter.
Purslow left his post at Chelsea last year.
“If Europe’s three leading football nations whom bookmakers expect to be at least semi-finalists in the World Cup — Germany, France and Spain — were to decide that an unprovoked nerve agent attack by Russia on a Nato ally merited joining England in a boycott, it would destroy the credibility and attraction of the tournament and hurt Putin’s popularity more than any economic or diplomatic sanction,” Purslow wrote.
“Our government could not target a measure that would be better guaranteed to make clear to the Russian people what their leader is up to and what right-thinking citizens of the world feel about it.”
Putin extended his control of Russia for another six years after winning more than 75% of the vote in Sunday's presidential election.
Meanwhile The Sun is reported that diplomatic tensions could spill over into the stands with Russian Ultras making threats against English fans on social media.
The British Foreign Office has issued a warning to its citizens travelling to Russia.
“Due to heightened political tensions between the UK and Russia, you should be aware of the possibility of anti-British sentiment or harassment at this time," the updated travel advisory said.
“You’re advised to remain vigilant, avoid any protests or demonstrations and avoid commenting publicly on political developments.