UNITED NATIONS New
York (Xinhua) -- The corridors of
power at the United Nations Headquarters in New York might
appear to most observers to be the epitome of seriousness and
However, diplomatic protocol took a
back seat on Thursday for the first match of the 2018 FIFA World
Cup in Moscow, when Russia’s ambassador to the United Nations,
Vassily Nebenzia, invited his colleagues to join him with a
jersey and a beer.
At about 10:20 a.m. local time in New York, ambassadors to
the United Nations, nearly 100 journalists and UN staff from
Saudi Arabia, Kazakhstan, Argentina, South Korea, Peru,
Colombia, France, Tunisia, Japan and many other countries were
invited to join the festivities.
Ambassadors watched the opening match of the World Cup
between hosts Russia and Saudi Arabia in a lounge at UN
Many took off their suits and temporarily replaced them with
the jerseys of their respective national teams.
Notably, Saudi Arabia’s ambassador Abdallah Yahya
al-Mouallimi took a photo with Nebenzia before a sea of
It was better to come early than late.
UN General Assembly President Miroslav Lajcak had not long
taken his seat next to Nebenzia when the Russian team scored the
first goal, prompting a round of boisterous cheering and
high-fives from the usually serious and dignified diplomats.
As temperatures in the Northern Hemisphere gradually warmed
with the arrival of summer, the relationship between Russia and
the West has cooled.
In March, former Russian double agent Sergei Skripal was
poisoned in Salisbury, England, causing the United States and
many European nations to launch a series of punitive measures
Relations between Russia and the West further deteriorated
during rounds of mutual expulsions of diplomats, including 12
Russians from the United Nations.
Russia and the United States and its European allies have
often faced off against each other in the UN Security Council on
issues such as Syria and the Middle East.
The first World Cup victory has a special significance for
the Russian delegation to the United Nations, because this month
coincides with Russia’s rotating presidency of the UN Security
The Russian delegation attaches great importance to the
hosting of the World Cup, and has produced large-scale World Cup
posters and background boards for other delegates to take
In addition to allowing resident correspondents and diplomats
at the United Nations to watch the World Cup broadcasts, the
Russian mission also specifically arranged for the ambassadors
of the Security Council member countries to take pictures with
their jerseys in front of reporters.
The Saudi Arabian football team ranks 67th in the world and
Russia ranks 70th.
Neither Russia nor Saudi Arabia have star players or strong
teams, so this opener may be their only chance at glory.
However, at the United Nations, the Russian team’s first goal
produced much revelry and joy. Ambassadors from Morocco, Russia,
Tunisia and Peru celebrated together with the president of the
On Wednesday morning, Nebenzia was perhaps only half joking
when he said that the work of the Security Council would be
disrupted by the World Cup.
What seems certain, however, is that the sitting ambassadors
will continue to follow the tournament closely in the hope of
seeing their nations achieve glory on the world stage.
Football "invasion" of UN
Security Council as World Cup kicks off
UNITED NATIONS New York (Xinhua) --
The United Nations Security Council,
usually a venue for serious business concerning global peace and
security, suffered an invasion of sorts on Thursday, as World
Cup fever gripped the sitting diplomats.
To mark the opening match of the 2018 FIFA World Cup, in
which hosts Russia defeated Saudi Arabia 5-0, ambassadors of the
15-member states at the Security Council wore football jerseys
as they entered the venue.
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres stole the show by
entering the chamber dressed in the black outfit of a referee,
complete with a whistle.
While everyone was taking photographs and laughing, Guterres
suddenly pulled out a yellow card from his shirt pocket.
A reporter shouted at him: "Is there a red card?"
The secretary-general touched his pocket and said with a
smile, "Yes, but I cannot yet show it."
Guterres then handed a football to Russian ambassador Vassily
With his recognizable bald head, Nebenzia took the ball and
asked everyone to take pictures.
Chinese ambassador Ma Zhaoxu, who was dressed in the red
jersey of his country’s national team, took the opportunity to
show off his ball skills with a few tricks, and posed for the
waiting photographers with Nebenzia and Guterres.
The representatives then posed for a group photo in front of
the press, and then turned their backs to reveal that their
jerseys all featured the number 10.
This was especially symbolic, as not only was it the number
used by past legends of the World Cup such as Pele and Diego
Maradona, but it is also the number of non-permanent members of
the Security Council.
The organizers’ idea for each member to wear the number 10
jersey signifies the importance of each member to the goals of
the Security Council.
Prior to the council’s meeting on Mali, Security Council
rotating President Nebenzia said:
"We are united. We must unite not only during the World Cup
but also in the future."
"The whole thing is great, it’s creative, and it’s creating
history," said a Russian press officer.
"This event has created a new chapter in the history of the
World Cup in the Security Council."