Rabat – After months of silence on America’s bid to host the World Cup, President Trump took the sporting world by surprise—well, as much as the bombastic Trump can—when he tweeted a threatening message last week, calling on countries supporting Morocco to reconsider their votes regarding the 2026 World Cup.
Trump tweeted that it was a “shame” that countries to which America has lent its financial and strategic support in the past are now reported to be supporting a bid other than the “strong one put together” by the North American trio.
“Why should we be supporting these countries when they don’t support us (including at the United Nations)” Trump asked in his tweet, suggesting that foreign policy under Trump is essentially—perhaps only—guided by a tit-for-tat philosophy.
The “presidential tweet” received negative responses, with various FIFA spokespersons saying that the body’s regulations unequivocally condemn any political interference in the bidding procedures. Some American and foreign outlets even reported that Trump’s tweet is essentially counterproductive; resorting to extortion may have put the North American World Cup prospects in jeopardy.
A person other than Trump would have considered softening the controversial sentiment that his message sent to countries mostly in Africa and the Arab world that might have felt specifically targeted by the veiled threat and Trump’s self-congratulatory tone.
But despite the furor that followed his World Cup message, Trump appears convinced that extortion is an effective–if not the sole–means to gather support for America’s joint bid with Canada and Mexico. On the other hand, some commentators have suggested that Trump simply can’t stop being Trump.
In glaring defiance of FIFA’s response to his provocative tweet, the president reaffirmed his previous statements on Monday, suggesting that he truly meant what he tweeted, and that no one (who do FIFA think they are?) can make him back-pedal on his very Trumpian tweet.
What is more, Trump provided an answer to those who may have doubted doubting whether he had specific targets in mind at tweet time.
Upon receiving Nigeria’s president Muhammadu Buhari on a diplomatic visit, Trump pulled the World Cup card, calling on “countries in the continent” to support America’s World Cup bid.
Speaking in the Rose Garden, following his one-on-one meeting with President Buhari, Mr. Trump put the bilateral relations ostensibly at the heart of the visit on the backburner to issue yet another veiled threat against countries that may not be supporting the United 2026 World Cup dream.
“We hope to be the economic partner of choice for nations across the continent and all around the world,” Trump said, adding that the US is “respected again” when it comes to trade and commercial relations. He further emphasized that he hopes that all African countries will support the North American trio in its World Cup adventure, promising that the US “will likewise support” [those who will vote for its bid].
Alas, the most Trumpian part of the speech was yet to come: “We will be watching very closely and any help they could give us in that bid we would appreciate.”
Trump is convinced that the US can get away with coercion and corruption, in terms of commercial and strategic benefits, that would have crushed the chances of any other bidding country.
As the only contender facing the North American trio in what now seems to be a geopolitical struggle, Morocco 2026 says that it is counting on sports-related activities to convince voters of the quality and merits of Morocco’s candidacy on June 13, when national federations will convene in Moscow to determine the best strategy.