Trump issues thinly veiled threat to nations backing Morocco World Cup bid

#Politics

US president says it would be a 'shame if countries that we always support were to lobby against US bid' for 2026 tournament

Trump asked why the US should support countries that don't return the favour (AFP)
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Friday 27 April 2018 12:27 UTC
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Donald Trump on Thursday issued a thinly veiled threat to nations who would support Morocco's bid to stage the 2026 football World Cup, in a Twitter post backing the joint US, Mexico and Canada bid.

Morocco is the only rival to the North American bid, which the world football body FIFA will consider on 13 June.

"The US has put together a STRONG bid w/ Canada & Mexico for the 2026 World Cup," the US president said on Twitter.

"It would be a shame if countries that we always support were to lobby against the US bid. 

"Why should we be supporting these countries when they don’t support us (including at the United Nations)?"

The Morocco bid is expected to receive strong backing from FIFA's African and Middle East countries.

France plans to back Morocco, the country's football federation president told local media recently, while Russia, which will host the 2018 tournament this summer, has said it will also vote for the north African nation's bid.

Mexico's president, Enrique Pena Nieto, responded positively to Trump on Twitter.

"We can have differences but football unites us. Together we support the candidacy of Mexico, Canada and USA as the headquarters of the World Cup 2026," he wrote.

The US previously hosted the World Cup in 1994.

FIFA member countries receive one vote each, no matter their size, which gives disproportionate influence to small soccer nations.

Trump is not known as a football fan, aside from an interview in 1991 when he took part in the draw for the English League Cup in New York with former England international Jimmy Greaves.

"I used to play, and here we call it soccer," he said. "It's never worked out quite as well in the United States as it has elsewhere.

"But it's a great game, I love soccer, I played actually in high school, I played soccer. I love it, it's a great game."

Trump was a member of the New York Military Academy's varsity football team in 1964.

FIFA did not immediately respond to a request for comment but a spokesman for the tri-nation North American bid said they were pleased to have the support of Trump.