Boris Johnson has sparked a fresh diplomatic war of words with Russia after suggesting Vladimir Putin will "glory" in this summer's World Cup in a similar way to Adolf Hitler at the 1936 Olympics in Berlin.
The Foreign Secretary suggested it was "an emetic prospect" to think of the Russian President "glorying in this sporting event", as he agreed it would be comparable to the Olympics held in Nazi Germany.
However, Mr Johnson ruled out a boycott of the World Cup in Russia by England's national team, despite it already being announced members of the Royal Family and Government ministers will not attend the tournament in the wake of the Salisbury nerve agent attack.
His comments brought an immediate response from Moscow, with Russia's foreign ministry claiming Mr Johnson is "poisoned with venom of hate, unprofessionalism and boorishness".
The ministry's spokeswoman Maria Zakharova added on Facebook: "It's scary to remember that this person represents the political leadership of a nuclear power."
She also claimed Mr Johnson's "unacceptable" comments were "unworthy of a top European diplomat".
The Foreign Secretary made the remarks during an appearance in front of the House of Commons foreign affairs committee, at which he revealed the number of applications from England football fans wanting to go to Russia in June currently stands at just 24,000.
This is compared to the 94,000 applications at the same stage before the last World Cup in Brazil in 2014.
"The numbers are well down but that does not mean we are not deeply concerned about how they may be treated," Mr Johnson said.
"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 Foreign Secretary then agreed with a comparison, from Labour MP Ian Austin, between President Putin's hopes for this year's World Cup and Hitler's use of the 1936 Olympics.
However, Mr Johnson rejected Mr Austin's suggestion England should not be participating in the World Cup.
He said it would be "wrong to punish" football supporters "or the team who have worked on this for a long time, incredibly hard, given up their lives to it".
The Foreign Secretary added: "We do indeed need to have an urgent conversation with the Russians about how they propose to fulfil their obligations under their FIFA contract to look after all fans arriving.
"There is an issue... there is a discussion, we need to consider that issue."
The 1936 Olympics provided a propaganda opportunity for Hitler and his Nazi regime in Germany, with the run-up to the Games marked by debate over whether it should be boycotted by other nations - most prominently in the US.
Hitler officiated at both the opening and closing ceremonies, but saw his dream of a triumph for "Aryan" athletes famously undermined by black American athlete Jesse Owens winning four gold medals.
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