FIFA rejects Zelensky request to deliver peace message at World Cup final — report

Ukrainian president had asked to speak via video to stadium in Qatar ahead of Sunday’s game, CNN reports

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky attend a news conference in Kyiv, Ukraine, November 26, 2022. (AP Photo/Efrem Lukatsky)
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky attend a news conference in Kyiv, Ukraine, November 26, 2022. (AP Photo/Efrem Lukatsky)

World Cup organizers have rejected a request from Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to deliver a message ahead of the tournament’s final, according to a Friday report.

Zelensky had asked to share a plea for world peace ahead of Sunday’s World Cup final but was turned down by FIFA, soccer’s governing body, CNN reported.

The Ukrainian president wanted to deliver the message via video to fans in the stadium in Qatar. The Ukrainians and FIFA are still holding talks, a source told the US news network.

Zelensky has repeatedly appealed for peace and assistance on the world stage at government and cultural events, including to Israel’s parliament, the Knesset, US lawmakers, the Grammy Awards, the Cannes Film Festival and the G20 summit.

FIFA has sought to keep politics out of the World Cup, and has come under heavy fire for holding the tournament in Qatar due to the Gulf state’s treatment of LGBTQ people and migrant workers, among other issues. Homosexuality is illegal in Qatar.

The tournament has banned players from wearing rainbow-themed anti-discrimination armbands and barred fans from displaying flags besides those of the teams at play and other political messaging.

Organizers have made an exception for the Palestinian flag, however, which has been featured prominently during the games.

Qatari authorities have also brushed aside worker deaths and banned alcohol at games.

Russia’s team was banned from the World Cup after the invasion of Ukraine, and the Ukrainian squad failed to qualify.

Russian forces have been pounding Ukraine with missile barrages in recent weeks, hitting energy infrastructure in an apparent attempt to freeze Ukrainians into submission during the winter.

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