Spirit of FIFA turns UNSC into friendly football pitch

The angry rhetoric and the blame-throwing gave way to the thump of a bouncing soccer ball and deft dribbling as the spirit of sportsmanship from the 2018 FIFA World Cup tournament overwhelmed the UN Security Council.

Council members on Thursday showed up in their countries’ jerseys between consultations on Yemen and a report on Sudan and South Sudan to celebrate the start of the World Cup in Russia, while Secretary-General Antonio Guterres came in as a “referee” with a whistle and flashing a yellow card as if to enforce sportsman-like decency.

Russia’s Permanent Representative Vassily Nebenzia, who is the Council President this month, shot a “goal” through the table’s opening.

He kept a football in front of him on the table as he presided over the rest of the day’s sessions.

US Permanent Nikki Haley received a round of applause as she came into the chamber wearing a red-and-blue-striped white jersey and greeted Nebenzia with a smile, often her nemesis at the Council.

Some envoys dribbled, kicked and passed the ball on the Council floor where weighty matters of war, peace and security are determined.

And then they went back to work.

The spirit of sportsmanship prevailed in the Council even later in the day when it took up the situation in Mali where the run-up to the presidential election has been marred by some violent clashes.

Council members showed near-unanimity in expressing concern about the security situation in the West African nation and calling for implementing the country’s peace agreement.

(Arul Louis can be reached at arul.l@ians.in)

By Arul Louis

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