UN Watch

Spirit of football infects UN

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 Security Council on Thursday.
 
Jun 15, 2018
 
By Arul Louis
 
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 Security Council on Thursday.
 
Members of the Council 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, flings dreaded vetoes from his spot at the Council's round table.
 
But on Thursday, Nebenzia, who is the president of the Council for the month, instead 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.
 
United States Permanent Nikki Haley received a round of applause as she came into the chamber wearing a red-and-blue-striped white jersey and greeted with a smile Nebenzia, 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.
 
Later in the afternoon, the spirit of sportsmanship prevailed in the Council when it took up the situation in Mali where the run-up to the presidential 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.
 

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