Donald Trump weighs in again on World Cup bidding
US president’s interventions could jeopardise joint bid by US, Mexico and Canada
For the second time in a week, US president Donald Trump on Monday urged other countries to support the North American bid to host the 2026 World Cup and again implied there might be consequences for those who did not.
The comments, made during a news conference in the White House Rose Garden , raised new questions about whether Trump’s input constitutes political interference in the bidding process, which could jeopardise the joint bid by the United States, Mexico and Canada.
In remarks about international trade while meeting with the Nigerian president, Muhammadu Buhari, Trump said: “I hope ,all African countries and countries throughout the world, that we also will be supporting you and that they will likewise support us in our bid along with Canada and Mexico for the 2026 World Cup.
“We will be watching very closely, and any help that they could give us in that bid, we would appreciate.”
Last Thursday, Trump praised the bid on Twitter, adding remarks that some observers construed as a veiled threat: “The US has put together a STRONG bid w/ Canada and Mexico for the 2026 World Cup. It would be a shame if countries that we always support were to lobby against the US bid. Why should we be supporting these countries when they don’t support us (including at the United Nations)?”
Fifa declined to comment on the Twitter post. A Fifa spokesman, however, did point to its pre-existing rules of conduct, which warn governments of bidding nations not to participate in activities that “may adversely affect the integrity of the bidding process and create an undue influence on the bidding process”.
The host of the 2026 World Cup will be named June 13th, a day before the opening match of the 2018 World Cup in Russia. Even before Trump’s remarks, the North American bid was not considered the favourite against its only rival, Morocco, even though the United States has an abundance of large stadiums and, in 1994, sold more tickets than any World Cup before or since.
Geopolitics always come into play when selecting hosts for the largest international sporting events, the World Cup and the Olympics. And Trump is unpopular internationally, in part because of his travel ban on residents from several predominantly Muslim nations and because of his reported vulgar remarks about accepting immigrants from developing countries, including those in Africa.
From his remarks about the World Cup, it is not clear that Trump understands the process of how a host country is chosen. Fifa explicitly warns governments not to interfere and it has suspended countries from international soccer for violations of those rules.
Morocco has the public support of the Confederation of African Football, which includes 50-plus national federations, and backing from European federations like France, Russia and Belgium.
A corruption scandal related to the awarding in the 2018 and 2022 World Cups led to changes in how World Cup hosts are chosen; instead of a small committee making the decision, each of Fifa’s member federations will vote – with its choice made public – at the meeting in Moscow in June. – New York Times