FIFA has rejected a request by Ukraine president Volodymyr Zelensky to share a message of peace ahead of the World Cup final, according to reports. Zelensky offered to appear in a video link to fans in the stadium ahead of Sunday’s clash between Argentina and France.
Ukraine remains under Russian aggression and Zelensky planned to use the World Cup final to send a message to the world. Zelensky has used major sporting and entertainment events to make speeches, whether in person or via video link.
The president’s office has apparently claimed that FIFA denied the offer for Zelensky to appear on the screens inside the Lusail Stadium ahead of the World Cup final, though. It is unclear if the link would be live or pre-recorded.
There was ‘surprise’ in Zelensky’s office when their request received a ‘negative response’. Talks between Kyiv officials and FIFA remain active.
That is according to CNN, who have spoken to a source in Zelensky’s office. “We thought FIFA wanted to use its platform for the greater good,” they told the broadcaster.
The move by Zelensky is unsurprising. He has often used high-profile events to highlight the war in Ukraine, such as appearing at the Grammys and the Group of 20 Nations summit.
Following the start of the invasion of Ukraine in February, Russia were banned from participating in international football events by FIFA and UEFA. It meant they were effectively barred from competing at the World Cup, having qualified to enter the play-offs.
FIFA has effectively placed a blanket ban on political and social campaigning in Qatar. The governing body received plenty of criticism after banning seven European nations’ captains from wearing a ‘OneLove’ armband in support of the LGBTQ+ community, who face prosecution in the country hosting the World Cup.
It prompted Germany to cover their mouths during their pre-match team photo. They felt they had been silenced by FIFA.
Zelensky wanted to appear on the Lusail Stadium screens ahead of Argentina’s clash with France on Sunday. The World Cup Final is likely to be broadcast to hundreds of millions around the world and would have presented an excellent opportunity for Zelensky to put forward his message.
The news comes on the day that FIFA announced a new 32-team club tournament. An effective expansion of the Club World Cup will begin in 2025. (Express)