Live updates: Russia’s war in Ukraine

Ukraine has criticized FIFA for refusing to show a video message from President Volodymyr Zelenskyy at Qatar’s Lusail Stadium ahead of Sunday’s World Cup final.

The video, which was recorded in English, was intended to be a “call for peace,” according to a written statement from Ukraine’s presidential office on Saturday.

“Qatar supported the President’s initiative, but FIFA blocked the initiative and will not allow the President’s video address to be shown before the final match,” the statement said.

CNN has reached out to FIFA but has received no comment. Qatar has not publicly commented on Ukraine’s request.

CNN first reported the story when a source in Zelenskyy’s office said a request to broadcast the video message was turned down.

CNN received a video copy of President Zelenskyy’s pre-recorded speech on Saturday.

During the 1-minute, 43-second video, Zelensky says football should bring the world together and calls for “the World Cup, but not a world war.”

“This World Cup has proven once again that different countries and nationalities can decide who is the strongest in fair play, but not in playing with fire – on the green field and not on the red battlefield,” Zelenskyj said in the speech.

Ukraine’s presidential office told CNN it thought the message was too political and sent a copy of the address text to FIFA headquarters in Switzerland on Friday.

“There is nothing political in the President’s appeal that lends political color to the sporting event, namely no subjective evaluations, political signals and certainly no allegations,” the statement said.

Ukraine’s Presidential Office added that there was “still time for FIFA to rectify its mistake”.

“FIFA should not be afraid that words of peace will be heard at the global celebration of football that represents peace,” the statement said.

Ukraine’s Presidential Office also said it will independently distribute the video if FIFA doesn’t broadcast it. The organization’s decision to block the clip would show that “FIFA has lost its precious understanding of football – as a game that unites peoples rather than encourages existing divisions”.

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