April 27, 2018 7:30 pm
Updated: April 27, 2018 7:35 pm

FIFA reminds Trump that blackmailing countries into voting for U.S. World Cup bid is unethical

WATCH: North American bid for 2026 World Cup in jeopardy?

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U.S. President Donald Trump‘s recent tweet in support of the U.S.-Canada-Mexico bid to host the 2026 FIFA World Cup may have inadvertently hurt the three countries’ chances of hosting soccer’s showpiece event.

It’s not unusual for a head of state to talk up his country’s bid, but Trump took things a step further, seemingly threatening to withdraw support to countries that don’t vote for the so-called “United 2026” bid.

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On Friday, FIFA issued a reminder that political interference into the World Cup bidding process is forbidden under its statutes.

“As a general rule, we cannot comment on specific statements in connection with the bidding process. We can only refer to the FIFA Regulations for the selection of the venue for the final competition of the 2026 FIFA World Cup, and in particular to the Bid Rules of Conduct incorporated therein,” the Fédération Internationale de Football Association told Reuters in a statement.

Section 9.1 (iv) of FIFA’s bid rules of conduct states that governments must refrain from any activities that may adversely affect the integrity of the bidding process — this ostensibly includes governments strong-arming, blackmailing or bribing other countries to secure their vote.

World soccer’s governing body is highly sensitive about perceptions of political interference into the World Cup bidding process following the litany of corruption scandals related to the awarding of the 2018 and 2022 World Cups to Russia and Qatar respectively.

WATCH: While some cities pull out, others push for united North American bid

The U.S.-Canada-Mexico bid is competing with Morocco for the chance to host the 2026 tournament, with FIFA’s 211 member countries scheduled to vote for the winner in Moscow on June 13.

Morocco was initially regarded as a dark horse candidate, but the North African country now looks to have a real shot thanks to widespread anti-American sentiment fanned by Trump administration policies, ESPN reported in March.

Early last year, FIFA president Gianni Infantino warned that Trump’s ban on travellers from Muslim-majority countries was incompatible with tournament regulations.

READ MORE: Could anti-Trump sentiment jeopardize North America’s 2026 FIFA World Cup bid?

The U.S. previously hosted the FIFA World Cup in 1994, while Mexico played host in 1970 and 1986. Canada hosted the FIFA Women’s World Cup in 2015, and has previously hosted FIFA tournaments at under-20 and other youth levels.

Toronto, Montreal and Edmonton are the three Canadian cities slated to host matches if the United 2026 bid prevails. The bulk of the matches (60) would be held in the U.S., with Canada and Mexico hosting 10 each.

Only one African country has previously hosted the tournament — South Africa in 2010.

© 2018 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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