FIFA has rebuffed a request from Volodymyr Zelensky, president of Ukraine, to share a message of world peace ahead of the World Cup final’s kick-off on Sunday.
France and Argentina will play out the 2022 final in Qatar’s Lusail Stadium, with the event set to be watched by millions of spectators worldwide.
Russia launched a full-scale invasion of Ukraine in February of 2022, resulting in tens of thousands of deaths and the escalation of an ongoing refugee crisis.
Since being invaded, Zelensky has attempted to use world events to incite support for Ukraine and ensure focus remains on the war against their country. CNN report that his office offered to appear on a video to fans in the Lusail Stadium ahead of kick-off, and was ‘surprised by the negative response’.
The report further states that talks between Ukraine and the sport’s governing body are still underway.
FIFA has gone to significant lengths to try and remove elements of politics from the 2022 World Cup, despite the very tournament being a political issue itself due to the nature of where it is being held.
There has been plenty of criticism aimed towards FIFA for allowing Qatar to host the World Cup given their concerning human rights record, particularly towards their treatment of migrant workers and the LGBTQ+ community.
Several European nations including England intended to adopt a ‘OneLove’ captain’s armband in the Middle East, depicting a rainbow love heart, in order to send a message of solidarity, diversity and inclusivity. However, that idea was scrapped hours before the Three Lions’ first game, amid threats of players being punished for wearing the armband in the form of a yellow card.
Despite letting them host the tournament in 2018, FIFA and UEFA banned all Russian football clubs and national teams from taking part in their competitions back in February, as a result of their invasion on Ukraine.