World Cup 2026: Does Morocco hold the Trump card?

Until the Aug. 10 deadline for submissions, no one in Morocco believed Morocco would even submit a bid. But five months later, Morocco is not only running, it is given a chance against the United bid from the USA, Canada and Mexico.

One big reason: changing opinions around the world about the United States in the aftermath of the election of President Donald Trump, including his most recent remarks about African countries.

"It's about perceptions of America," Sunil Gulati, the outgoing president of U.S. Soccer and chairman of United Bid Committee board, said a Q&A sessionat the United Soccer Coaches Convention in Philadelphia on Thursday, "and it's a difficult time in the world. So there's only certain things we can control. We can't control what happens at the 38th parallel in Korea, we can't control what happens with embassies in Tel Aviv, and we can't control what happens with climate change accords. We do the best we can."

At a press conference with Mexican soccer federation president Decio de Maria and Canadian Victor Montagliani, the Concacaf president, on Tuesday in London to promote the United bid effort, Gulati played up the strengths of the North American bid.

“We think the certainty and risk-aversion we can provide for the central piece of revenue for FIFA going forward is pretty compelling,” Gulati said.

He tried to downplay the Trump factor.

“Whether it’s the Olympics or the World Cup," he added, "we cannot control the politics. It will change over time and we have all of the assurances we need from all three governments to support the bid."

Process. The two bidders have until March 16 to submit their final bids. One key requirement: guarantees about visa-exemptions for fans, players, coaches and staff during the tournament.

A FIFA technical team will then conduct an inspection tour and present its findings to the FIFA Council (the expanded executive committee), which will make a recommendation to the FIFA Congress before its vote.

Vote. FIFA's members -- 211 national associations, minus the USA, Canada, Mexico and Morocco -- will vote, and every vote will be open to public viewing.

That is a change from the scandal-ridden process of secret balloting of FIFA executive committee members that plagued the votes on the 2018 and 2022 World Cup hosting rights won by Russia and Qatar in 2010.

The concern: Congress members will vote against the USA, not because of the technical merits of the United bid or the FIFA Council's recommendations, but because of fear of how their vote for Trump's USA will look back home.

FIFA Members:
55 Europe
54 Africa
46 Asia
35 Concacaf
11 Oceania
10 Conmebol

The Moroccan view is that it can win on its own without the Trump factor, beginning with its support in Africa and the Arab world.

“We will not be playing the Trump card,” Hisham El-Amrani, chief executive of the Moroccan campaign, told Bloomberg on Tuesday at its bid launch in Casablanca. “We are confident in the assets of our bid and we wish our opponents the best of luck in their campaign.”

3 comments about "World Cup 2026: Does Morocco hold the Trump card?".
  1. Mario Cesarone, January 24, 2018 at 8:34 a.m.

    Our last President, with a stellar world reputation, could not avoid the US from getting bagged by the Russians and the Quataries.  Funny thing politics, stellar reputations and adored people.

  2. Anthony Calabrese replied, January 24, 2018 at 11:11 a.m.

    The 2014 and 2018 World Cups were awarded in 2007. 

    But Obama personally went to the IOC to push for Chicago for 2016 and that lost on the first ballot.

  3. Wooden Ships, January 24, 2018 at 9:50 a.m.

    Here we go again. Replace the apologist Gulati. 

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