FIFA rebuff World Cup final request from Ukrainian president Zelensky
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.
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Why Pele wanted Lionel Messi & Argentina to win 2022 World Cup
The daughter of the late Pele has revealed that the footballing legend wanted bitter rivals Argentina to win the 2022 World Cup for Lionel Messi after Brazil’s elimination.
After a battle with cancer, Pele passed away at the age of 82 on December 29 2022, 11 days after the World Cup final.
He spent much of the tournament in Qatar in palliative care and surrounded by family.
Pele’s beloved Brazil were eliminated at the quarter-final stage by Croatia on penalties, missing out on a South American showdown with Argentina.
His daughter, Kely Nascimento, shared a story about her father on Instagram after bumping into Messi’s wife, Antonela Roccuzzo.
Nascimento wrote: “Story time: This is the very beautiful and graceful Antonela Roccuzzo, Messi’s wife.
“I didn’t have the opportunity to meet Messi so when I met her in that magical place of every party (the ladies’ room) I passed him a message through her.
“By the time Brazil lost against Croatia my dad was getting a lot worse. Everybody wanted Brazil to win this cup for my dad, nobody more than the national team!
“But my father understood better than most what football is like. And it was really this possibility that any team could win that he always talked about that he loved about this beautiful game.
“After the defeat of Brazil every person who entered that hospital room (all day and every day until the final!!!) said: “Hey Pele? Now who do you want? Of course Argentina NO!
“And he would say “Argentina yes! This cup has to stay in South America and Messi deserves it!
“Everyone was pretending (and sometimes not pretending) horror!!! HOW?! Argentina!!!?
“And he would simply say ‘yes, Messi deserves it’.
“He wasn’t getting to watch TV in the final anymore, but he understood that Argentina won and Messi got to lift the cup, and he was happy.
“Long live football.”
Thiago Silva hits out at ‘joke’ ranking for Julian Alvarez at The Best awards
Chelsea and Brazil centre-back Thiago Silva has questioned how Julian Alvarez secured a seventh-place finish at FIFA’s The Best awards recently.
Alvarez impressed with Argentina as La Albiceleste won the World Cup during the winter but has struggled for minutes since joining Manchester City in the summer, starting just six Premier League games as he competes with Erling Haaland.
Despite that, Alvarez still managed to rack up enough points to finish seventh in the award rankings, beating the likes of Neymar, Kevin De Bruyne, Vinicius Junior and Robert Lewandowski.
Only Sadio Mane, Haaland, Luka Modric, Karim Benzema, Kylian Mbappe and eventual winner Lionel Messi picked up more votes than Alvarez.
The Man City striker’s place on the list has attracted plenty of criticism from fans who argued that the impact of the World Cup played too much of a role in deciding the final rankings, and it seems as though Silva agrees.
“It’s a joke,” Silva wrote on Instagram in response to a post which questioned Alvarez’s final standing.
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The award was partly voted for by fans, with Alvarez picking up the third most votes among supporters, behind only Mbappe and Messi.
Nine of his 15 points came from the fan vote, although the City striker still managed to pick up six from the rest of the voting, which was conducted by coaches, captains and journalists from countries across the world.
Silva himself voted for international teammate Neymar to win the award, with Messi second and Benzema in third.
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