By Andrew Warshaw
April 27 – The increasingly bitter race to stage the 2026 World Cup has been plunged into unchartered and unprecedented territory after tweets by US president Donald Trump appeared to violate strict FIFA rules over the bid process.
In a remarkable tweet late Thursday, the most powerful man in the western world waded into the campaign by appearing to threaten countries who vote against the joint 2026 bid by the US, Canada and Mexico.
“The U.S. has put together a STRONG bid w/ Canada & Mexico for the 2026 World Cup,” tweeted Trump.
“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)?”
By effectively threatening political or economic repercussions for countries whose federations vote for Morocco over United 2026, Trump may have scored a damning own goal that could have the opposite effect and jeopardise the north American bid, reported to be strongly favoured by FIFA president Gianni Infantino.
FIFA’s bidding regulations warn that activities conducted by the respective governments of bidding countries “may adversely affect the integrity of the Bidding Process and
create an undue influence on the Bidding Process.”
Furthermore, the rules state that governments should be made aware about the strict code of conduct in case their activities might also affect “the integrity, image and reputation of the Member Association (s), Fifa and the Fifa World Cup. Member Association(s) shall use its/their best efforts to achieve full transparency by such entities in relation to any such activities that may create an undue influence on the Bidding Process.”
Whether the US Soccer federation informed the White House about what Trump could or couldn’t say about 2026 beforehand is one crucial question. Countries don’t vote, federations do. If Trump is deemed to be guilty of political interference, FIFA, as it has done many times elsewhere in the world, can take action against the US federation – and, by association, its 2026 joint venture with Canada and Mexico.
All three nations have been at pains in recent weeks to distance themselves from the notion that United 2026 is primarily a US-led venture but Trump’s tweet will hardly support that theory.
In March, former US Soccer president Sunil Gulati stepped down as the bid’s chairman and was replaced by three co-chairs: Canada Soccer president Steven Reed, Mexico Football Federation president Decio de Maria, and new US Soccer president Carlos Cordeiro.
On the surface Trump’s comments appear to carry far more danger in terms of breaching the ethics code than a complaint made last week by FIFA’s 2026 evaluation panel against Fifa number two Fatma Samoura.
Samoura was reported over an allegedly undeclared family link with Moroccan bid ambassador El Hadji Diouf, a complaint that was deemed so tenuous it has quickly been dismissed by FIFA’s ethics committee, according to the BBC.
Although United 2026 still just remain favourites to win in June, Trump’s latest remarks risk alienating wavering voters already upset by his infamous “shithole” comment back in January when referring to certain parts of the world.
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