French professional football player Paul Pogba dedicated France’s World Cup semi-final win against Belgium to the 12 children who survived a harrowing ordeal trapped in an underground Thailand cave.
The final five members of a youth football team were rescued from a flooded cave on Tuesday after spending 18 days confined, completing an astonishing rescue mission that captivated the world.
Thailand Navy SEALSs and elite foreign divers extracted the final children and a 25-year-old coach through an escape route that required travels through narrow, water-filled tunnels in darkness.
Following the 1-0 win in Saint Petersburg, Manchester United midfielder Pogba tweeted, “This victory goes to the heroes of the day, welldone boys, you are so strong.”
FIFA manager GIanni Infantino invited the childrens’ Wild Board football team to Sunday’s World Cup final last week. However, FIFA informed, “that due to medical reasons, the boys will not be in a position to travel to Moscow”.
“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,” a spokesman said.
The Thai footballers, aged from 11 to 16, has been trapped deep underground after setting off to explore the cave with their coach after training on June 23.
FIFA also expressed condolences to the family of a Thai Navy SEAL who died after running out of oxygen during the rescue operation on Friday. “Our thoughts are with his family,” FIFA said.