Football 'invasion' of UN Security Council as World Cup kicks off

Members of the UN Security Council shake hands with Secretary General Antonio Guterres (in black). They are sporting jerseys to mark the opening match of the 2018 Fifa World Cup.
Members of the UN Security Council shake hands with Secretary General Antonio Guterres (in black). They are sporting jerseys to mark the opening match of the 2018 Fifa World Cup.PHOTO: REUTERS

UNITED NATIONS (XINHUA) - The United Nations Security Council, usually a venue for serious business concerning global peace and security, suffered an invasion of sorts on Thursday (June 14), as World Cup fever gripped the sitting diplomats.

To mark the opening match of the 2018 Fifa World Cup, in which hosts Russia defeated Saudi Arabia 5-0, ambassadors of the 15-member states at the Security Council wore football jerseys as they entered the venue.

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres stole the show by entering the chamber dressed in the black outfit of a referee, complete with a whistle.

While everyone was taking photographs and laughing, Mr Guterres suddenly pulled out a yellow card from his shirt pocket.

A reporter shouted at him: "Is there a red card?"

The secretary-general touched his pocket and said with a smile: "Yes, but I cannot yet show it."

Mr Guterres then handed a football to Russian ambassador Vassily Nebenzia. With his recognisable bald head, Mr Nebenzia took the ball and asked everyone to take pictures.

 

Chinese ambassador Ma Zhaoxu, who was dressed in the red jersey of his country's national team, took the opportunity to show off his ball skills with a few tricks, and posed for the waiting photographers with Mr Nebenzia and Mr Guterres.

The representatives then posed for a group photo in front of the press, and then turned their backs to reveal that their jerseys all featured the number 10. This was especially symbolic, as not only was it the number used by past legends of the World Cup such as Pele and Diego Maradona, but it is also the number of non-permanent members of the Security Council.

The organisers' idea for each member to wear the number 10 jersey signifies the importance of each member to the goals of the Security Council.

Prior to the council's meeting on Mali, Mr Nebenzia, the Security Council's rotating president, said: "We are united. We must unite not only during the World Cup but also in the future."

Said a Russian press officer: "The whole thing is great, it's creative, and it's creating history.

"This event has created a new chapter in the history of the World Cup in the Security Council."