Putin gives Trump World Cup ball after question on Syria: 'Now the ball is in your court'

Written by on July 16, 2018

Mikhail Svetlov/Getty Images(HELSINKI) — Russian president Vladimir Putin paused a joint press conference after answering a question on whether the ball is “in the Russian court” regarding cooperative efforts in Syria to hand President Donald Trump a soccer ball in Helsinki, Finland Monday.

“Speaking about having the ball in our court in Syria, President Trump has just mentioned that we’ve successfully concluded the World Football Cup. Speaking of the football, actually…” Putin said, stepping from his podium to retrieve a 2018 World Cup soccer ball. “Mr. President, I will give this ball to you, and now the ball is in your court.”

Putin noted that the United States will host the tournament in 2026 after passing the ball to the president.

“That will go to my son Barron,” Trump said. “In fact, Melania, here you go.”

At that the President lobbed the ball to the first lady, who sat abreast Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in the front of the room.

The reporter who asked the question on Syria referred specifically to the language used by Pompeo, who tweeted the night before, “A better relationship with the Russian government would benefit all, but the ball is in Russia’s court.”

Several GOP lawmakers gave Trump scathing reviews of his performance at the summit. Sen. Lindsay Graham of South Carolina went on to address Putin’s spherical gift.

“If it were me, I’d check the soccer ball for listening devices and never allow it in the White House,” he tweeted.

The passing of the ball is not without precedent. Putin offered an apparently identical ball to the emir of Qatar, the next nation to host the World Cup, one day before his meeting with Trump.

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