CHIANG RAI, Thailand, July 10, 2018 (BSS/AFP) – The eight young footballers
rescued from a cave in Thailand after more than two weeks underground are
unlikely to be able to take up an offer to attend the World Cup final in
Moscow, doctors said Tuesday.
The plight of the boys has prompted an outpouring of support from across
the footballing world, from Brazil legend Ronaldo to England’s John Stones
and Argentinian superstar Lionel Messi.
The emaciated and dishevelled “Wild Boars” were found after nine days of no
contact on a small, muddy bank surrounded by water several kilometres inside
the Tham Luang cave in northern Thailand.
All had come from football training when they first went into the cave on
June 23, and were wearing football shirts when they were found — one wore an
England top, another the colours of Real Madrid.
Images of the desperate group went viral, prompting FIFA boss Gianni
Infantino to invite them to the July 15 showpiece in a gesture of solidarity
from the footballing world and a dream to most teenage football fans.
But doctors poured cold water on the idea, saying the boys are in good
shape but going through a slow and careful recovery that will see them stay
in hospital for a week.
“They can’t go, they have to stay in hospital for a while,” Thongchai
Lertwilairatanapong, of the public health ministry, told reporters Tuesday
when asked about the offer to attend Sunday’s match.
“They’re likely to watch it on television,” Jedsada Chokdamrungsuk,
permanent-secretary of the Ministry of Public Health.
The boys were still far from being rescued at the time the offer was made
and as of Tuesday afternoon only eight had been freed as the complex mission
entered its final stage.
So far no major health problems have been detected but parents will only be
able to visit the first four boys using protective gear and after a period of