UEFA’s president, Aleksander Ceferin, has warned the United States that their bid to host the 2026 World Cup would be affected by Donald Trump’s travel restrictions and immigration policy.
Any efforts to stop players, journalists or fans from entering the country would go against them when the bids are being considered.
“It (immigration policy) will be part of the evaluation and I am sure it will not help the United States to get the World Cup,” Ceferin said.
“If players cannot come because of political decisions, or populist decisions, then the World Cup cannot be played there. It is true for the United States, but also for all the other countries that would like to organise a World Cup.
“It is the same for the fans, and the journalists, of course. It is the World Cup. They should be able to attend the event, whatever their nationality is.
“But let’s hope that it does not happen.”
The move from UEFA, while welcome, seems more than a touch hypocritical given that the governing body has already awarded World Cups to Russia and Qatar. Both come with their own set of problems involving human rights issues.
The bidding process for 2026 was put on hold due to the corruption allegations around the awarding of the 2018 and 2022 tournaments. It restarted in May 2016 and a final decision is expected in May 2020 – six months before US elections will take place.
USA last hosted the World Cup in 1994 and it does seem rather ridiculous that they could get it again ahead of the likes of England, who last hosted the tournament in 1966, or others who have never been given the chance.
Of those who could bid or have confirmed that they will are Canada, Mexico, United States, Colombia, Australia/New Zealand (joint), Morocco, Azerbaijan/Turkey (joint), England, and Kazakhstan.
However, UEFA nations will only be able to bid should none of the other candidates meet the necessary criteria. FIFA decided that neither they nor the Asian Football Federation should be allowed to bid for the tournament so soon after it was awarded to Russia and Qatar.
The 2026 World Cup will be the first to feature 48 teams instead of the usual 32.