KEIR RADNEDGE REPORTING —- Suddenly President Donald Trump has thrown himself into the 2026 World Cup bidding battle and no-one may guess how that will end up – either his ‘home’ United States bid (with Canada and Mexico) or rival Morocco.
Last month a five-man evaluation task force from world federation FIFA spent five days assessing the strengths and weaknesses of both bids and will report to council members ahead of a scheduled vote in congress in Moscow on June 13.
Morocco’s organisers accept their bid is an outsider in terms of infrastructure, venues and financial potential but believe that they have a strong vote-gathering potential in their own African continent (Gambia the latest to confirm) as well as Asia (most recently Myanmar), southern and eastern Europe and even in the Caribbean.
President Trump, after virtually ignoring the bid campaign, has now joined the battle for votes including among those countries he dismissed only in January as “shithole” nations.
Trump flouted the spirit of bid rules at the weekend when he took to Twitter to threaten cutting support to any nations which cast their vote against United 2026 in the ballot which will be open.
FIFA, questioned, restated rules which bar football federations from publicly expressing a preference and caution politicians against similar involvement.
However Trump either did not notice or deliberately took no notice.
In a joint press conference at the White House with Nigeria’s President Muhammadu Buhari he called on Nigeria and other African nations to support the US bid.
Trump said: “I hope all African countries and countries throughout the world, that we also will be supporting you, 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 they can give us in that bid, we would appreciate.”
FIFA told international agencies that it could not comment directly on Trump’s comments but has regularly reiterated term and conditions of the bidding rules which warn against “any undue influence” on the outcome.
Bid observers who considered the so-called ‘Trump effect’ a danger to the United 2026 bid are now less certain after the remarkable turn of events in Korea.