'There are no champions in war': Zelenskyy appeals for peace summit on day of World Cup final

Ukraine's Volodymyr Zelenskyy says there are 'no champions in war' as he used the World Cup final as an opportunity to appeal for a global peace summit

Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelenskyy has invoked the spirit of the World Cup as he appeals for a global peace summit to end the war in his country.

As football fans prepare for the final between Argentina and France on Sunday, the embattled leader drew inspiration from the sport's ability to unite the world.

In a video shared with ITV News, Mr Zelenskyy says: “This World Cup proved time and again that different countries and nationalities can decide who is the strongest with fair play - not by playing with fire."

In the same way that "every father would like to take his son to a football match", the president says that "every mother would like her son to be back from war".

"There are no champions in war, there can be no draw," he adds, as he calls for a summit this winter to "unite all nations of the world around the cause of global peace".

FIFA president Gianni Infantino claims "the FIFA name is the only global, original title." Credit: PA

He adds: “Stadiums , stands, get emptied after the match, and after the war cities remain empty - that’s why wars must fail and peace is to become the champion."

It follows reports that Mr Zelenskyy asked FIFA if he could send a message for peace prior to kick-off at Qatar's Lusail Stadium, and was rejected by football's governing body.

ITV News has contacted FIFA for comment.

Throughout the tournament, FIFA has made attempts to prevent the competition being used as a platform for political statements.

Even before the World Cup started, it had been tarnished by concerns over the deaths of migrant workers, a poor record of human rights and the treatment of LGBTQ+ people in the Gulf sate.

The war in Ukraine has been dragging on since Russia's invasion on February 24 Credit: AP

FIFA's president recently defended the organisation's ban on 'Onelove' armbands - a symbol of anti-discrimination over which players were threatened with sporting sanctions.

Gianni Infantino suggested football matches should be a time for everyone to ‘forget their problems’ rather than create more, and said the ban was about "respecting regulations" and the "field of play".

While Mr Zelenskyy has used the World Cup as an opportunity to call for a global peace summit, he has no intention of negotiating based on how the situation currently stands.

He has previously set out some clear limitations, for example, that Kyiv would not be prepared to negotiate with Russia until it has withdrawn its troops from Ukraine.

In a tweet last month, presidential advisor Mykhailo Podolyak added: "Is Putin ready? Obviously not. Therefore, we are constructive in our assessment: we will talk with the next leader of RF [Russian Federation]."

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