The 12 members of a junior soccer team that transfixed a global audience with their dramatic rescue from a cave in northern Thailand will be denied the opportunity to attend Sunday’s World Cup final.
Soccer’s international governing body, FIFA, extended an offer to host the players at the final, which will be held at Moscow’s Luzhniki Stadium between France and the winner of Wednesday’s second semifinal involving Croatia and England.
However, following their harrowing ordeal, the youngsters from Wild Boars Football Club near Chiang Rai were instructed to remain in hospital for at least seven days for monitoring by medical staff.
“FIFA would like to express its great joy at the news of the rescue of the 12 young footballers and their coach,” the governing body said in a statement. “We would like to convey our profound gratitude to all persons involved in the rescue operation, which unfortunately took the life of one of the divers. Our thoughts are with his family.
“We have been informed by the Football Association of Thailand that due to medical reasons, the boys will not be in a position to travel to Moscow for the World Cup final. FIFA’s priority remains the health of everyone involved in the operation and we will look into finding a new opportunity to invite the boys to a FIFA event to share with them a moment of communion and celebration.”
FIFA officials will meet with members of the Thai soccer federation this weekend to discuss possibilities of a future trip for the boys, who range in age from 11 to 16. English Premier League club Manchester United also extended an offer to the players and their rescuers to attend a game at its Old Trafford stadium next season, while England national team player Kyle Walker requested social media advice on how to reach the Wild Boars – so that he could send them jerseys.