United Nations, New York, USA, June 14 2018 – Security Council members, wearing the jerseys of their national teams, gathered in the chamber today to mark the opening of this year’s FIFA World Cup today at the UN Headquarters in New York City.
Secretary-General Antonio Guterres and Miroslav Lajcak President of the seventy-second session of the General Assembly, pose for a group photo with Council members, including Vassily Nebenzia, Permanent Representative of the Russian Federation to the United Nations and President of the Security Council for the month of June.
Photos: Luiz Rampelotto/EuropaNewswire
By Kurt Wheelock
When the 2018 World Cup kicked off in Moscow with Russia playing Saudi Arabia, in the UN’s Delegates Lounge in New York Russian Ambassador Vassily Nebenzia sat watching the game with his Saudi counterpart Abdallah Y. Al-Mouallimi.
With them were the Ambassadors of other countries ranging from Morocco and Tunisia to Peru and Senegal. Some like Nebenzia were wearing the jerseys of their national teams. By halftime Russia was ahead 2-0. It ended 5-0 as Nebenzia chaired a meeting of the Security Council of which Russia is President for the month of June.
Before the Security Council’s afternoon meeting about Mali, Nebenzia again convened his colleagues, this time the members of the Security Council in the Council chamber, all but one in the nation’s jersey.
The President of the General Assembly Miroslav Lajcak arrived in the jersey of his native Slovakia. UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres joined the group, not in the jersey of his native Portugal but rather a black referee’s uniform. Guterres blew the whistle around his neck. He flashed the red and yellow cards that were in his breast pocket.
Lined up for the group photo in the front of the Council’s horseshoe table, Guterres declined to fully pull out a penalty card. As a matter of diplomacy, at whom would the sanction be directed? Chinese Ambassador Ma Zhaoxu showed a ping pong paddle he had brought with him. Ambassador Nebenzia said, the Chinese play football with those.
US Ambassador Nikki Haley came and said she only wished the US had qualified for this World Cup. Along with Mexico and Canada, however, the US has been awarded the 2026 World Cup, over competition from Morocco.
As to the current World Cup, Ambassador Nebenzia this week said, “Reading about Russia from the Western media I’m often tempted to say in reply to some of them: what you think or say about Russia is nothing what Russia is. Come and see for yourselves. Russia is a mega-space. Russia is a continent. Russia is a universe. And those who had courage to come and especially stay, discovered another Russia, different from the one they knew from mass-media. I am personally aware of many examples of this. Those who will have this chance in the nearest future as football fans who in the coming month will be enjoying the greatest sports fair – the Football World Cup. We will celebrate this great sports festival together and as I was already saying before we will be very nice hosts, including on the field. We will let others win, as our national team won’t be able to make it anyway. Though we never lose hope on our national team. But may the best win.”
Nebenzia’s counterpart in Geneva Gennadiy Gatilov, Russia’s ambassador to the UN and other international organizations there, said that “the main sport event of this year the 21st World Cup is scheduled to take place in Russia. All of the stadiums, airports, hotels and infrastructure are ready and waiting to receive the football fans. I would like to use this opportunity to inform you that the Russian mission with the support of other countries will organize the live broadcast of all the football matches in the Palais des Nations”
At UN Headquarters in New York for the month of World Cup games to come, the Russian Mission has set up television screen not only in the anteroom to the Security Council chamber, but also in the Delegates Lounge and in the Vienna Cafe in the UN’s basement, next to where the Sanctions Committees meet. Whether the spirit of friendly competition so apparent on June 14 will continue, and for how long, remains to be seen.