A spokesperson for the Football Association has confirmed that members of the England football team were presented with gifts of tea from representatives of Vladimir Putin’s government shortly after they arrived in St Petersburg yesterday.
The FA’s director of communications Michael Fuqual said, ‘As we were walking down the steps from the aircraft, a large black limousine pulled up, and a team of government officials stepped out with the most beautifully decorated gift bags that we have ever seen.’
‘One of them told us that there were bags for everybody on the plane, and when I opened mine I saw that it contained a variety of tea leaves and something that resembles a sort of hair gel product – this must be the tradition in Russia.’
‘With all of the diplomatic ill-feeling between our two nations of late, it’s incredibly thoughtful of them to show our players and staff that there are no hard feelings – some of them appeared to be physically choked at the gesture.’
‘We heard one member of the team babbling incoherently from the rear of the aircraft, but it turned out that it was just Wayne Rooney tagging along for moral support.’