Ukraine is slamming FIFA for refusing to show a video message from President Volodymyr Zelensky at Qatar’s Lusail Stadium ahead of Sunday’s World Cup final.
The video, which was recorded in English, was supposed to be an “appeal for peace,” according to a written statement provided to CNN by Ukraine’s presidential office on Saturday.
“Qatar supported the president’s initiative, but FIFA prevented the initiative and will not allow the president’s video address to be shown before the final match,” the statement said.
CNN has reached out to FIFA but has not received any comment. Qatar has not publicly commented on the request from Ukraine.
CNN Mentioned for the first time in the story When a source inside Zelensky’s office said the request to hand over the video message had been denied.
CNN received a videotaped copy of President Zelensky’s pre-recorded speech on Saturday.
During the 1-minute, 43-second video clip, Zelenskiy says that football aims to unite the world and call for “a World Cup, but not a world war”.
“The World Cup once again proved that different countries and nationalities can decide who is stronger in fair play, but not in playing with fire – on the green field, not on the red battlefield,” Zelensky says in the title.
Ukraine’s presidential office told CNN they were told the letter was deemed too political by FIFA and said they sent a copy of the address text to FIFA headquarters in Switzerland on Friday.
“There is nothing political about the president’s charisma that politicizes the sporting event, which is the lack of self-assessments, political references and, more than that, the lack of accusations,” the statement said.
Ukraine’s presidential office added that “there is still time for FIFA to correct their mistake”.
“FIFA should not be afraid that words of peace will be heard in the global celebration of football that represents peace,” the statement said.
Ukraine’s presidential office also said it would distribute the video independently if FIFA did not broadcast it. It said the organization’s decision to ban the clip would show that “FIFA has lost its valuable understanding of football – as a game that unites people rather than propping up existing divisions”.
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