Trump’s World Cup tweet seen as threat to Morocco-bid supporters

By AT editor - 28 April 2018 at 5:20 pm
Trump’s World Cup tweet seen as threat to Morocco-bid supporters

As if Morocco’s FIFA World Cup bid isn’t already contentious enough, now a Twitter message from United States President Donald Trump has sent FIFA officials toward the guidelines on undue political influence over the World Cup host selection process.

“The U.S. has put together a STRONG bid w/ Canada & Mexico for the 2026 World Cup,” Trump said in a tweet on Thursday night. “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)?”

Observers were quick to note that Trump’s remark on the joint North American bid from the United States, Canada and Mexico – already under fire for Trump’s travel ban targeting Muslim-majority nations and his diplomatic disaster in alleged remarks over African countries – may have violated FIFA ethics rules. 

That’s not to mention the threat to other nations with the UN reference: Many African nations, as well as France and others in the wider global community, say they plan to support Morocco’s World Cup bid.

FIFA, in a statement to Reuters, pointed to regulations that forbid politically motivated influence and emphasize reforms made in the wake of FIFA scandals of the past. Those rules extend to activities of the governments and host cities involved in the bid that “may adversely affect the integrity” of the bidding process.

Morocco’s bid has hit a few roadblocks, and come up short on its infrastructure plans during official FIFA inspections in recent weeks. An Associated Press story also raised questions about Morocco’s anti-LGBT laws and its human rights statement in the bid package released publicly last month, which was silent on LGBTQ issues.

Others have raised concerns over the decades-long Western Sahara question of sovereignty and human rights.

That’s led to concerns that Morocco will be eliminated from contention on the basis of low scores rather than a full vote in Russia in June, as this year’s World Cup matches begin. Some officials, including senior FIFA official Reinhard Grindel of Germany, insist a vote is necessary because there are only two bids.

An ethics committee complaint made against FIFA Secretary General Fatma Samoura of Senegal, tied to the World Cup bidding process, was deemed unfounded on Friday. It followed separate accusations from Morocco that FIFA President Gianni Infantino is blocking their bid success.

Morocco did not immediately respond to Trump’s remark. To view the complete bid document from the Moroccan Football Association, see this link.

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