FIFA president Gianni Infantino has invited the Thai boys’ football team trapped in a cave to the World Cup final next Sunday.
Infantino, speaking after the boys were located, said he hoped they would be rescued in time to watch the final in Moscow on July 15.
“If, as we all hope, they are reunited with their families in the coming days and their health allows them to travel, FIFA would be delighted to invite them to attend the 2018 World Cup final as our guests,” he wrote in a letter to the head of the Football Association of Thailand.
“I sincerely hope that they will be able to join us at the final, which will undoubtedly be a wonderful moment of communion and celebration.”
Boys of the Wild Boars team, aged 11-16, have been stuck in darkness deep underground after setting off to explore the cave with their 25-year-old coach after training on June 23.
The players remain trapped in the cave despite being reached this week by cave-diving rescuers, who released footage of them looking emaciated but calm.
Their harrowing ordeal coincides with the World Cup in Russia and it has not escaped the attention of the football world.
Japan’s World Cup squad tweeted a video urging the team to “Hang in there!”, while Brazil legend Ronaldo called their plight “terrible”.
Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp urged them to “stay strong and know we are with you”, in a video message sent to CNN, while the Croatian Football Federation said it was “awed” by the team’s calm under pressure.
Others on social media said the boys deserved the World Cup trophy for the calm manner in which they have handled their ordeal.