Monday 24 September 2018

Rescued Thai youth team get FIFA invite to player-of-the-year show in London

FIFA president Gianni Infantino also paid tribute to the Thai diver who died in the rescue attempt.

Gianni Infantino has invited the rescued Thai youngsters to a FIFA event (Francisco Seco/AP)
Gianni Infantino has invited the rescued Thai youngsters to a FIFA event (Francisco Seco/AP)

By Matt Slater, Press Association Chief Sports Reporter, Moscow

FIFA president Gianni Infantino has invited the young team rescued from flooded caves in Thailand this week to world football’s player of the year awards show in London on September 24.

The 12 boys, aged between 11 and 17, and their 25-year-old coach were trapped in the Tham Luang cave system when heavy rain cut them off on June 23.

Their 18-day ordeal gripped global attention and there was widespread relief when divers were able to bring them out in groups between Sunday and Tuesday.

FIFA had hoped to invite the youngsters – all players for a team called Wild Boars – to the World Cup final in Moscow on Sunday, but the boys required medical treatment and could therefore not travel to Russia.

Having already announced that FIFA was in talks with the Thai Football Association about another way of marking their rescue, Infantino told reporters in Moscow on Friday that they would all be invited to London in two months’ time.

“The whole world was watching and praying until all the boys and the coach came out,” he said.

“It touched the whole world but in particular football because it was a team, something we could all relate to, and I thank God there was a happy ending.

“So we will invite them to the FIFA Best Awards in London and there will certainly be some other activities in Thailand.”

The 48-year-old Swiss-Italian also sent his condolences to the family and friends of the ex-Thai navy diver who died last week while working on the rescue.

“In the joy of the rescue, I think it’s important not to forget those who put their lives in danger to help people.”

As well as the invite to London, the boys also have a standing invitation from Manchester United and several World Cup stars have express their desire to send them kit, including England’s Kyle Walker.

Press Association

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