By Andrew Warshaw
May 1 – Donald Trump has again entered the World Cup lobbying arena, perhaps not quite with the same threatening tone or language but nevertheless potentially in danger of again violating FIFA’s ethics code and by association undermining his country’s joint bid for the 2026 World Cup.
Seemingly in defiance of being rapped over the knuckles by FIFA for last week’s remarkable tweet hinting of repercussions against countries who vote for Morocco over United 2026, Trump has repeated his appeal to foreign nations to support the United States’ joint bid with Canada and Mexico.
This time Trump directed his request specifically to African nations which is bound to be viewed as a major slight by Moroccan officials who are banking on majority support among African nations.
“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,” Trump said in a joint press conference with Nigerian president Muhammadu Buhari.
“We will be watching very closely, and any help they can give us in that bid we would appreciate.”
Whether Trump’s latest intervention will be viewed as political influence and again prompt FIFA to refer to its guidelines remains to be seen. FIFA, of course, wouldn’t dare go as far as sanctioning the US Soccer Federation for all kinds of geo-political reasons yet it is worth noting once more the bid rules which contain an explicit warning against activities by governments of bidding countries which “may adversely affect the integrity of the Bidding Process and create an undue influence on the Bidding Process”.
While Trump appears to continue not to grasp that governments don’t vote, they do of course wield enormous influence. By continuing to make statements that could be construed as politically damaging, he is potentially making a rod for his own back – or the back of United 2026 officials. Don’t forget it was African nations whom he infamously described “shithole countries”.
On the other hand, his remarks could have the opposite effect and scare federations into voting for United 2026, worried that their countries may not get trade deals with the US. That, of course, would fly in the face of treating each bid on its merits but World Cup votes have always had a political dimension. The fact is no-one knows precisely how the latest Trump initiatives will pan out.
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