FIFA denies Zelensky's request to send 'message of peace' before World Cup final - report

"We thought FIFA wanted to use its platform for the greater good," a source told CNN following the reported rejection.

 Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelensky appears on the screen during a NATO summit in Madrid, Spain June 29, 2022. (photo credit: YVES HERMAN/REUTERS)
Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelensky appears on the screen during a NATO summit in Madrid, Spain June 29, 2022.
(photo credit: YVES HERMAN/REUTERS)

International soccer governing body FIFA denied a request by Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to share a "message of peace" in a video address before the World Cup final, CNN reported on Friday evening.

According to the report, Zelensky hoped to give a speech prior to kickoff that would have been broadcast inside Qatar's Lusail Stadium, which will host close to 90,000 people for Sunday's final between France and Argentina.

However, Zelensky's suggestion appeared to receive a negative response from President Gianni Infantino and other FIFA officials, with a source telling CNN that "we thought FIFA wanted to use its platform for the greater good."

Talks are still ongoing, CNN added, meaning that Zelensky may yet make an appearance at the World Cup final. It is unknown if the Ukrainian president's potential message will be live or taped, the report stated.

FIFA chief looking to avoid politics amid World Cup in Qatar

Infantino had been adamant about the exclusion of politics from the major soccer tournament after he lambasted critics of Qatar who argued the World Cup should not have been held in the Gulf state due to its human rights record.

 FIFA president Gianni Infantino and President of Russia Vladimir Putin with the World Cup trophy (credit: REUTERS/DAMIR SAGOLJ/FILE PHOTO) FIFA president Gianni Infantino and President of Russia Vladimir Putin with the World Cup trophy (credit: REUTERS/DAMIR SAGOLJ/FILE PHOTO)

In a lengthy monolog prior to the opening match last month, Infantino raised eyebrows when he attempted to show empathy with marginalized groups by telling reporters in Qatar "I feel gay... I feel like a migrant worker."

He also referred to the hypocrisy of the criticism coming from Europeans, criticizing their own historic record on human rights.

Despite that, FIFA took action against Russia due to its invasion of neighboring Ukraine earlier this year, when it expelled Moscow from competing in the World Cup. It also suspended all Russian teams from European competitions, such as the UEFA Champions League.