Jose Mourinho accused of taking ‘blood money’ as Russian pundit
Russian channel announced Mourinho as main World Cup pundit a day after Salisbury
Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho will work as a pundit in Russia this summer. Photograph: PA
Jose Mourinho’s decision to work as a World Cup pundit for Kremlin-backed television channel RT has been strongly criticised by English MPs following the Salisbury poisoning attack.
The Russian channel announced Mourinho as its main pundit for Russia 2018 a day after the incident in Salisbury, but the Manchester United manager has repeatedly refused to answer any questions about the role.
In a statement, Rhondda MP Chris Bryant said: “To my mind, this is blood money, paid directly from the Russian state coffers.”
RT, formerly known as Russia Today, has recently been attacked by politicians in France and the United States for pumping out propaganda in support of Russian president Vladimir Putin, and on Monday in parliament several MPs called for its UK broadcasting licence to be withdrawn.
While he is probably the best paid, Mourinho is not the only high-profile football figure associated with the controversial channel, as former players Stan Collymore and Peter Schmeichel also work for RT, as do several politicians, including George Galloway and Alex Salmond.
The English Football Association has declined to comment on what the UK’s worsening relationship with Russia might mean for the World Cup but is understood to believe it should not impact England’s plans to compete in the tournament.
Now in its second week, the controversy started when former spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia fell seriously ill in Salisbury on March 4th.
It has now been confirmed that they were poisoned by a lethal nerve agent developed by the Russian military and they, and the first policeman on the scene, remain in a serious condition in hospital.
Broadcasting regulator Ofcom issued a statement on Tuesday, following Prime Minister Theresa May’s update on the investigation to parliament on Monday, and said it would wait for her next public comments on Wednesday before considering “the implications for RT’s broadcast licences”.