KEIR RADNEDGE REPORTS: United States President Donald Trump has thrown his weight too heavily behind the home bid to win 2026 World Cup host rights in a manner guaranteed to irritate more people than his already-declared critics.
Trump tweeted in support of United 2026 in following up a cross-party vote of approval in the House of Representatives earlier this week.
A five-strong task force empowered by world football federation FIFA has run the rule this month over the rival US-Canada-Mexican and Moroccan bids for 2026. FIFA Congress is scheduled to vote between them in Moscow in June.
Trump has always supported the United 2026 bid.
However his latest tweet suggested the US might impose diplomatic and financial sanctions against nations whose federations vote for the opposition.
Trump tweeted: “The U.S. has put together a STRONG bid w/ Canada & Mexico for the 2026 World Cup. It would be a shame if countries that we always support were to lobby against the U.S. bid. Why should we be supporting these countries when they don’t support us (including at the United Nations)?”
He is not breaking with convention by supporting a home bid through his political status: Moroccan leaders have done the same and a number of other African political leaders have come out publicly in support of Morocco.
But upset will be provoked by the sanctions threat, exacerbating resentment about Trump’s reference last year to “shithole nations”.
FIFA, in response to questions about Trump’s comment, said: “As a general rule, we cannot comment on specific statements in connection with the bidding process. We can only refer to the FIFA regulations for the selection of the venue for the final competition of the 2026 FIFA World Cup, and in particular to the bid rules of conduct incorporated therein.”
The rules contain an explicit warning against activities by bidding nation governments which “may adversely affect the integrity of the bidding process and create an undue influence on the bidding process.”
** The FIFA ethics committee has declined to open a formal investigation into bizarre allegations concerning non-existent family links of secretary-general Fatma Samoura to the Morocco 2026 bid. Despite reports to the contrary, no formal investigation was ever opened.