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Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 11 December 2018

Trump warns countries that do not back World Cup bid

US, Canada and Mexico vying with Morocco to host 2026 tournament

President Donald Trump has threatened to withhold assistance to countries that do not support the US joint bid to host football's 2026 World Cup. Nicholas Kamm / AFP
President Donald Trump has threatened to withhold assistance to countries that do not support the US joint bid to host football's 2026 World Cup. Nicholas Kamm / AFP

US President Donald Trump has hinted that countries who do not back a North American bid to host the football World Cup could face political repercussions.

"The US has put together a STRONG bid w/ Canada & Mexico for the 2026 World Cup," Mr Trump tweeted on Thursday.

"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)?"

Morocco is the only other nation bidding for the 2026 football showpiece against the combined North American bid.

World football's governing body Fifa will announce the winning bid after a vote on June 13 in Moscow, ahead of the start of this year's World Cup in Russia.

Noel Le Graet, president of the French Football Association, has said France will back Morocco.

Mr Le Graet said this month that Africa, where the World Cup has only been hosted once before - in South Africa in 2010 - "has often been neglected".

Ahmad Ahmad, president of the Confederation of African Football, has urged European countries to support Morocco.

In an interview this week, he appealed to European self-interest saying: "Vote for us and we'll vote for you next time."

While Morocco can expect widespread support from African countries, the 10 countries of the South American Football Confederation said this month that they had decided "unanimously" to support the North American bid.

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The North American bid has long been viewed as the front-runner to stage the tournament, thanks to its well-developed infrastructure.

But there have been concerns that Mr Trump's comments on such issues as immigration could hurt the bid.

US law enforcement were also responsible for exposing systemic corruption in Fifa in 2015, but US Soccer Federation chief Carlos Cordeiro said in March that he did not believe anti-US sentiment would be a factor in the vote.

"This is not geopolitics this is football," he said.