Sport

World Cup offers ‘unique platform’ to pursue Ukraine peace, claims Fifa chief

The head of football’s world governing body, Fifa, issued a plea on Tuesday for a ceasefire in the war in Ukraine for the duration of the World Cup, calling for all sides to use the tournament as a “positive trigger” to work towards a resolution.

Gianni Infantino, speaking during a lunch with leaders of the G20 major economies on the Indonesian island of Bali, said the month-long World Cup, which starts in Qatar on Sunday, offered a unique platform for peace.

“My plea to all of you, to think on a temporary ceasefire for one month for the duration of the World Cup, or at least the implementation of some humanitarian corridors or anything that could lead to the resumption of dialogue as a first step to peace,” the Fifa president said.

“You’re the world leaders, you have the ability to influence the course of history. Football and the World Cup are offering you and the world a unique platform of unity and peace all over the world.”

Russia reached the quarter-finals of the previous World Cup in 2018, which it hosted, but has been barred from this tournament over its invasion of Ukraine. Ukraine came close to qualifying for Qatar but lost against Wales in a deciding playoff in June.

Infantino noted that Russia hosted the 2018 edition and Ukraine is bidding to hold the 2030 contest, and as many as 5.5 billion people are expected to watch this year’s event, which could give a message of hope.

“Maybe the current World Cup, starting in five days, can be that positive trigger,” he said.