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Thai cave boys, coach invited to Spain to see football ‘heroes’

Thai students smile as they hold pictures of 12 boys and their fooball coach at a school in front of hospital where the boys rescued after being trapped in a nearby cave for 18 harrowing days have been brought for observation in Chiang Rai. © AFP / TANG CHHIN Sothy

MADRID, Spain, Jul 11 – Spain’s La Liga football league has invited the schoolboy team rescued from a flooded cave in Thailand to come watch a game once they have recovered from their ordeal to meet their “heroes.”

“When the time is right, and everyone involved is ready I’d personally like to invite the children and the coach to attend a La Liga match” in Spain, president Javier Tebas said in a statement Wednesday.

“We’d like to host them and share with them the joy football can give, and I hope this gesture can help after the events of the last few weeks.”

La Liga said it wanted the 12 boys and their football coach, who form the Wild Boars soccer squad, to “watch many of their football heroes in action in person.”

The boys were trapped for more than two weeks after setting off to explore a cave complex in northern Thailand and getting caught by rising floodwaters.

One of the boys was wearing a Real Madrid t-shirt.

La Liga said it had messaged all its clubs to invite them to participate.

Football’s world governing body FIFA had invited the Wild Boars to Sunday’s World Cup final in Moscow, but they remain too weak to come and must stay in hospital to make sure they have no infections.

Two of them are being treated for symptoms of pneumonia.

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The last of the group was finally extracted on Tuesday after a painstaking and dangerous international rescue mission led by Thai Navy SEALs.

The boys received scores of support from people as varied as US President Donald Trump, football star Lionel Messi or US technology entrepreneur Elon Musk.

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