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World Cup

Thai cave rescue: FIFA president Infantino invites boys to World Cup final

13:58 BST 06/07/2018
Gianni Infantino Thailand Cave Children
The FIFA president is hopeful that the children and their coach can be rescued and can be taken to the showpiece event

FIFA president Gianni Infantino has written to the Thai FA to invite the 12 boys and their coach trapped in a cave to the World Cup final.

The children have been stuck in the cave for close to a fortnight after heavy rain made it impossible for them to leave when they were exploring the system.

After several days of searching, rescuers found all 13 people alive but face a challenge to extract them from the situation .

It has been suggested that they may need to learn how to scuba dive in order to escape, but none of the children can swim and cave diving is a notoriously dangerous sport, as emphasised by the death of one of their rescuers, Saman Gunan, a former navy diver, in the caves on Friday.

Infantino, meanwhile, has expressed his support in a letter to the president of the Thai FA, Somyou Poompanmoung.

“We have been anxiously following the news of the rescue operation in the search for 12 young footballers and their coach in a flooded cave in northern Thailand’s Chiang Rai province since 23 June 2018, and are now greatly relieved to hear the good news that they have been found by the rescue team,” the Italian wrote.

“On behalf of the international football community, I would like to join you in expressing my deepest sympathies and support to the families of the players and coach, as well as my solidarity with the people of Thailand at this time of great concern. Our thoughts and prayers are with all of the families and communities and we hope that they will soon be embracing their loved ones and restoring their strength and confidence.

“We hope that, in some way, our words of support may help bring them a little peace and courage in these difficult moments of uncertainty and concern.

“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 in Moscow as our guests. 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.

“Yours respectfully,

“Gianni Infantino.”

More heavy rain is expected at the weekend, which is set to complicate the rescue effort. 

The World Cup final, meanwhile, will be played on Sunday, July 15.