The president of FIFA, Gianni Infantino, has personally invited the 12 boys and their football coach to the World Cup final on Sunday 15 June after they were rescued from a from a cave in northern Thailand.
Infantino wrote the following in a letter to the head of the Football Association of Thailand:
“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.
“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.”
Manchester United Football Club have also reached out with a brilliant gesture, welcoming the team from Wild Boars Football Club and their rescuers to Old Trafford this coming season.
“MUFC is relieved to learn that the 12 footballers and their coach trapped in a cave in Thailand are now safe.” they wrote on Twitter.
“Our thoughts and prayers are with those affected.
We would love to welcome the team from Wild Boars Football Club and their rescuers to Old Trafford this coming season.”
The 12 boys and their coach had been stuck in the cave since 23 June after rising water levels trapped them within the Tham Luang Nang Non cave complex in Chiang Rai, but they were discovered by a team of British divers on Monday, prompting an urgent, meticulously-planned rescue operation.
Initially, rescuers said the boys (who are aged between 11 and 17) might have to wait until the end of the rainy season before they could be safely brought out from the cave, which would have involved waiting several months.
But weather forecasters then said that heavy rains were expected to hit the area over the coming days and weeks, meaning water levels would rise further – and that the rescue operation had to take place much sooner.