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Trump warns countries that might oppose North American World Cup bid

Thursday, April 26, 2018

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WASHINGTON, United States (AFP) — US President Donald Trump tweeted support for the North American FIFA World Cup bid Thursday, and hinted nations who oppose it could face political repercussions.

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

"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)?"

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.

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 exclusive interview with AFP 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 (CONMEBOL) said this month in a joint statement they had decided "unanimously" to support the North American bid.

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 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 didn't believe anti-US sentiment would be a factor in the vote.

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

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