World Cup organizers have rejected a request by Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to deliver a message before the tournament final, according to a report on Friday.
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 convey the message through a video to the fans at the Qatar stadium. The Ukrainians and FIFA are still in talks, a source told the US news network.
Zelensky has repeatedly called for peace and assistance on the world stage at government and cultural events, including Israel’s parliament, the Knesset, US lawmakers, the Grammy Awards, the Cannes Film Festival and the G20 summit.
FIFA has tried to keep politics out of the World Cup and has been heavily criticized for holding the tournament in Qatar because of the Gulf state’s treatment of LGBTQ people and migrant workers, among other issues. Homosexuality is illegal in Qatar.
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The tournament banned players from wearing rainbow-themed anti-discrimination armbands and prohibited fans from displaying flags other than those of the teams in play and other political messages.
However, the organizers have made an exception for the Palestinian flag, which has been outstanding during games.
The Russia team was excluded from the World Cup after the invasion of Ukraine and the Ukrainian team failed to qualify.
Russian forces have been hitting Ukraine with missile barrages in recent weeks, hitting energy infrastructure in an apparent attempt to freeze Ukrainians through the winter.
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