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USA to FIFA: There Will Be No Travel Discrimination for 2026 World Cup

30 May, 2018

By: Michael Popke

We're two weeks away from FIFA awarding the 2026 World Cup to either Morocco or Canada, Mexico and the U.S. (known as the United Bid).

Despite concerns that attempts by the Trump administration to impose a travel ban on residents of six majority-Muslim countries, Trump administration officials have guaranteed FIFA there will be no discrimination should the United Bid come through.

“All eligible athletes, officials and fans from all countries around the world would be able to enter the United States without discrimination,” the U.S. government told soccer’s international governing body in a recent letter.

Mexico’s leadership echoed that sentiment,according to the Associated Press.

“Our three governments have provided the strong guarantees we need, including so that entry will be safe, reliable and convenient for every player and every fan,” Mexico Football Federation President Decio de Maria told the International Sports Press Association Congress. “Just as it did for the 2028 Olympic Games in Los Angeles, the United States government has stated that it intends to issue visas, subject to U.S. law ‘without regard to race, skin color, ethnic, national or social origin, gender, language, religion or sexual orientation.’”

Trump’s actions have jeopardized North America’s joint bidi n more ways than one. In late April, he tweeted a veiled threat against countries that might oppose the bid: “The U.S. has put together a STRONG bid w/ Canada & Mexico for the 2026 World Cup. 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)?”

As The Guardian reports, “The bid rules contain an explicit warning against activities by bidding country governments which ‘may adversely affect the integrity of the Bidding Process and create an undue influence on the Bidding Process.’”

With about a month remaining before representatives from as many as 207 countries vote on June 13 to award the 2026 World Cup, the North American bid faces competition from Morocco — which the AP reports would need to spend $15.8 billion on construction projects to prepare for its first World Cup.

By contrast, no significant additional infrastructure would need to be built in North America, and a tournament with games held in the United States, Canada and Mexico is estimated to generate $14 billion in revenue for FIFA.

“If the question on June 13 is which bid can deliver the most success to help sustain FIFA and programs like FIFA Forward help member associations achieve their highest potential ... we firmly believe that our United Bid is best positioned to deliver that success,” U.S. Soccer Federation President Carlos Cordeiro told the AP.

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