The old adage “timing is everything in comedy” can easily apply to tragi-farce and there is no better tragi-farce than the continuing saga of Sergey and Julia Skripal – two alleged victims of a nerve agent attack so deadly that it appears to have bestowed the alleged victims with little more than the power of invisibility.
It is now received wisdom that the entire Skripal incident which first broke in early March of this year was connected with broader western attempts to derail the 2018 World Cup which is now being played throughout major Russian cities amid overwhelmingly positive reviews from spectators. The matches themselves have proved to be deeply exciting with Russia’s dramatic penalty shoot-out victory over favourite Spain being a particular source of excitement for football lovers and a moment of immense pride for Russians throughout the world.
If anything, the Russian victory over Spain encapsulate just how badly those who sought to spoil the World Cup with savage lies and perverse innuendo, had failed in their mission. By now, the Skripal incident had generally been forgotten as both alleged victims are now out of hospital, alive, well and totally un-contactable for reasons about which one can merely speculate.
But like clockwork, just under 48 hours after Russia’s victory over Spain and less than 24 hours before the England play Colombia, the Skripals are back in the headlines courtesy of Britain’s corporate media. This morning, the Sun tabloid reported a story based on undisclosed alleged police sources that British police now believe two hitmen with “close ties to Russia” poisoned the Skripals in early march. According to the story, both hitmen allegedly left the UK shortly after the alleged attack on the Skripals and are now in Russia under the “protection” of the Russian President.
Because the story is not backed up with any public evidence, it is impossible to know if it is true, false or a mixture of both. However, it does appear far more than coincidental that such a story should appear in the dramatic window between Russia’s startling victory against the Spanish football team and England’s win or be eliminated match versus the Colombian team.
Ultimately though, with interest in the Skripal story fading fast, it would appear that the corporate media have scored an own-goal. After months of warning that the Russian World Cup would be mired in violence, poor organisation and crumbling facilities, the truth of the matter is that fans throughout the world are coming forward with stories of how the year’s World Cup has exceeded expectations even among those who have travelled to multiple recent international football tournaments.
In this sense, if the best that an historically Russophobic news outlet can come up with in a final attempt to dampen the positive attitude surrounding the World Cup is the rehashing of an old story with some new un-evidenced information, then the failure of those in both western governments and in the media to spoil the world’s fun has been as epic in its magnitude as is one of the most successful Football World Cups in decades.