Fifa boss invites trapped boys to World Cup final

Fifa president Gianni Infantino hopes that the trapped boys would be rescued in time to watch the final in Moscow, on July 15, 2018.
Fifa president Gianni Infantino hopes that the trapped boys would be rescued in time to watch the final in Moscow, on July 15, 2018.PHOTO: AFP

MOSCOW • Fifa president Gianni Infantino has invited the trapped Thai boys' football team to the World Cup final, as messages of support poured in from top players.

Mr Infantino said he hoped the Moo Pa (Wild Boars) team would be rescued in time to watch the final in Moscow on July 15.

"If, as we all hope, they are reunited with their families in the coming days and their health allows them to travel, Fifa would be delighted to invite them to attend the 2018 World Cup final as our guests," he wrote in a letter to the head of the Football Association of Thailand.

"I sincerely hope that they will be able to join us at the final, which will undoubtedly be a wonderful moment of communion and celebration."

The boys' harrowing ordeal coincides with the World Cup in Russia, and it has not escaped the attention of players. Japan's World Cup squad tweeted a video urging the team to "Hang in there!"

Brazil football legend Ronaldo called their plight "terrible".

"The world of football hopes that someone can find a way to take these kids out of there," he said, according to CNN.

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp told the team that "You will never walk alone", quoting the motto of the English side which has a large following in Thailand.

"Stay strong and know we are with you," he said in a video message sent to CNN.

England defender John Stones said he had been discussing the cave rescue with his World Cup teammates. "It is so sad to see where they are, and we hope they get out safe and sound."

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 07, 2018, with the headline 'Fifa boss invites trapped boys to World Cup final'. Print Edition | Subscribe