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World Cup spirit reaches United Nations Security Council

By June 15, 2018No Comments

Diplomats from the world’s most powerful nations set aside any differences they may have had, donned their national strip and posed for a remarkable photo to celebrate the start of the World Cup.

Members of the United Nations Security Council even had a kickabout in the famous chamber where verbal blows over international crises – notably the Salisbury spy poisoning – have been exchanged in recent months.

Russian ambassador Vassily Nebenzia punted the ball toward the back of the horseshoe table, as if taking a free kick, before a bit of back-and-forth with the Netherlands’ permanent representative Karel van Oosterom as they waited for others to arrive.

World Cup spirit reaches United Nations Security Council PLZ Soccer
The United Nations Security Council ambassadors pose before the Per Krohg mural (AP/Mary Altaffer)

They laughed and joked with Kuwaiti representative Mansour Ayyad Al-Otaibi and Carl Skau of Sweden before the arrival of Miroslav Lajcak, the Slovakian president of the United Nations General Assembly.

The UK’s permanent representative to the UN, Karen Pierce, appeared to prefer to wait at the sidelines before the arrival of Antonio Guterres.

World Cup spirit reaches United Nations Security Council PLZ Soccer
Russian Ambassador to the United Nations Vassily Nebenzia showed off his skills with the ball (AP/Mary Altaffer)

Wearing a black referee’s shirt, the Secretary-General, a Portuguese national, made sure he had a whistle and yellow card ready to flash.

After the group were joined by US ambassador Nikki Haley, the council members fanned out and took their positions in front of the Per Krohg mural.

World Cup spirit reaches United Nations Security Council PLZ Soccer
Mr Nebenzia, Kuwaiti ambassador Mansour Ayyad Al-Otaibi, second from left, and Swedish representative Carl Skau play with the ball (AP/Mary Altaffer)

Ms Pierce lined up with Ms Haley to her right and Mr Nebenzia to her left, while China’s permanent representative, Ma Zhaoxu stood alongside his US counterpart.

Holding the football, the host nation’s representative stood next to Mr Guterres, who posed for the group shot with his yellow card aloft.

The moment of joviality came as the council met to discuss the ongoing conflict in Yemen amid fears of a humanitarian disaster.

In March an international diplomatic crisis sparked by the nerve agent poisoning of former Russian spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter, Yulia, led to fierce exchanges on the council over Russia’s role in the incident.

Barbs were also exchanged over Russia’s support for the regime of Syrian president Bashar Assad after its suspected use of chemical weapons on civilians.