May 3, 2018 / 1:54 PM / 5 months ago

Trump tweet wasn’t a threat to World Cup bid, says U.S. soccer chief

COPENHAGEN (Reuters) - The joint North American bid to host the 2026 World Cup has not been damaged by U.S. President Donald Trump’s recent controversial tweet of support, bid co-chair Carlos Cordeiro told Reuters on Thursday.

FILE PHOTO - Jan 21, 2018; San Diego, CA, USA; United States soccer vice president Carlos Cordeiro (right) presents former player Hope Solo a commemorative jersey celebrating her 200th appearance for the womens national team before a game against Denmark at SDCCU Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Orlando Ramirez-USA TODAY Sports

The U.S is bidding together with Canada and Mexico to host an expanded 48 team World Cup in 2026 but faces opposition from Morocco who have large support from African nations, as well as Russia and France.

The 211 football associations who make up FIFA’s membership will vote on the hosting rights in June.

Last week Trump said in a tweet: “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)?”

FIFA responded by issuing a reminder of the ethics and code of conduct rules for bidding campaigns.

Cordeiro said the tweet represented a welcome expression of support for the joint bid.

“I don’t see it as threatening. I think you have got to appreciate how he says things. I think what was implicit in what he said was that he would like to see people support our bid and that is what I like my head of state to say,” Cordeiro, who is the president of the U.S. soccer federation, said.

Mexican president Enrique Pena Nieto and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau both subsequently tweeted their own backing for the 2026 bid and Cordeiro said that showed the campaign had full political backing.

“Mexico and Canada tweeted on the same day and no-one talks about their tweets. But the reality is that all three heads of states have been very vocal in support of our united bid. I think that is fantastic,” he said.

U.S soccer officials have been meeting regularly with the Trump administration, including the President’s son-in-law and advisor Jared Kushner, a source close to the bid told Reuters.

The source added that one of those meetings was just two days before Trump issued the tweet but said that the intervention on social media had not been discussed.

Cordeiro, who was in Denmark to meet with Nordic soccer officials before leaving for further bid promotion events in Dubai, said he had not encountered any negative feedback from Trump’s tweet. “It doesn’t damage us,” he said.

“We have had extensive conversations with the White House going back months, as have Canada and Mexico (with their governments). Why? Because FIFA require a number of assurances, warranties and guarantees on behalf of each of our governments in terms of access, taxes, work-permits, security, airport facilities – these are all part and parcel of submitting a bid which we did in March.

“You do that with the cooperation of your government – we have had a lot of contact with them, including meetings last week,” he said.

Reporting by Simon Evans, editing by Pritha Sarkar

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