Dec 18, 2022 - World

Zelensky says FIFA blocked peace message before World Cup final

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy speaks at the "Human Rights in Dark Times" International Conference in Kyiv, Ukraine on December 9.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky at a conference in Kyiv, Ukraine, earlier this month. Photo: Ukrainian Presidency/Handout/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelensky said Sunday evening FIFA prevented a message he wanted to have broadcast before the soccer World Cup Final in Qatar about his proposed Global Peace Formula Summit this winter.

Driving the news: Zelensky wanted his video message to be broadcast before the final that Argentina won against France in a penalty kick shootout, which was watched by hundreds of millions of people worldwide, CNN first reported. But Zelensky said his message still got through.

  • Zelensky in a televised address thanked Ukrainian soccer stars and other players for sharing the video, along with news outlets.
  • "Although FIFA blocked this address from being shown at the stadium before the final game in Qatar, the world still heard our call," Zelensky said.

Zoom in: Zelensky noted the FIFA World Cup Final in Qatar represented the meaning of soccer as everyone can show their strength.

  • "But the competition is on the playing field, not on the battlefield. And the worst thing that can happen is a red card, not a red button," he said, referring to concerns of a possible Russian nuclear attack. "When people are united by football, people are united by peace."

Flashback: Vladimir Putin has made thinly veiled warnings about nuclear weapons in recent months, though Zelensky said earlier this month he didn't think the Russian leader would use them.

The big picture: FIFA policy is to remain politically neutral, though soccer's world governing body suspended Russia's national and club teams from all international competition following Russian forces' invasion of Ukraine.

  • Representatives for FIFA did not immediately respond to Axios' request for comment.

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