Aleksander Ceferin, the president of UEFA, has stated in an interview at the UEFA headquarters last week that the travel restrictions put in place by the Trump administration can negatively affect the United States’ bid to host the 2026 World Cup.
“It will be part of the evaluation, and I am sure it will not help the United States to get the World Cup,” Mr. 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 organize 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.”
Mr. Ceferin, who is also the vice president of FIFA holds a very important position in the world soccer’s governing body and his opinion does have a lot of weight.
If the Trump administration’s proposed 90-day ban remains a temporary policy then the United States will be a clear favorite to be awarded the 2026 tournament, either on its own or as part of a joint North American bid with Mexico and Canada. Bids for the 2026 tournament must be submitted by December 2018, before the start of a 13-month evaluation phase. FIFA will choose the host at a congress in May 2020.
However, if it becomes more than a temporary policy then it can hinder certain national teams from attending the world cup. One of them, Iran, has played in the World Cup three times since 1998, and two others — Iraq and Syria — have joined Iran in the later rounds of Asian qualifying for next year’s tournament in Russia.
There hasn’t been any comment on Mr. Ceferin’s remarks on Sunday from US soccer. Though it has not publicly confirmed its intention to bid for the tournament, the federation has expressed confidence that it would receive all the governmental guarantees needed to meet FIFA’s criteria for admitting visiting players and fans, and that no ban — temporary or otherwise — would be in place for the tournament. FIFA’s rules do not dictate that any potential hosts have entirely open borders.
Mr. Ceferin also acknowledged that more stringent immigration policies could harm Britain’s chances of hosting major finals once that country exits the European Union.
“If ‘Brexit’ happens, everything changes,” Mr. Ceferin said. “But football was played before, and it will be played in the future. Now, with free movement in the European Union, it is much better.”
And though Mr. Ceferin is still keen on his commitment to staging the final matches of Euro 2020 in England he said the organization might have to discount Britain as a potential venue for showpiece games if “Brexit” made it harder for players and fans to enter the country.
“Even in 2020, if ‘Brexit’ has happened, then it can be a big problem for fans. That stays firm, and we will speak to the British government, and I am sure the English Football Association will help us.”
The concerns of Mr. Ceferin are based on real issues that can affect the world of soccer but FIFA has never before imposed upon a country to completely open their borders to everyone. So immigration shouldn’t be the biggest concern on the table especially with the presence of modern day slavery in Qatar for the 2022 World Cup. Where is Mr. Ceferin’s concerns on that? We’re waiting.
Source: The New York Times