UEFA Warns US Against Travel Re­stric­tions

The Economic Times - - Sports: The Great Games -

The United States’ hopes of host­ing the FIFA World Cup in 2026 will be dam­aged, per­haps even crit­i­cally, if pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump’s travel re­stric­tions come into full force, Europe’s top foot­ball of­fi­cial said.

Alek­sander Ce­ferin, UEFA pres­i­dent, said mea­sures that might pre­vent play­ers, fans or jour­nal­ists from at­tend­ing the event would count against any bid.

The United States is a clear favourite to be awarded the 2026 tour­na­ment, ei­ther on its own or as part of a joint North Amer­i­can bid with Mexico and Canada.

But in an in­ter­view last week, Ce­ferin sug­gested that it would “not help” if pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump suc­ceeded in plac­ing harsher re­stric­tions on travel to the United States from cer­tain coun­tries in the near ter m. Though Trump’s ini­tial 90-day ban on im­mi­gra­tion and travel from seven Mus­lim-ma­jor­ity coun­tries was over­turned by a fed­eral court, he has vowed to in­tro­duce a sec­ond ex­ec­u­tive or­der.

“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 or­gan­ise a World Cup,” Ce­ferin said.

“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.”

Ce­ferin’s warn­ing is sig­nif­i­cant; in ad­di­tion to his po­si­tion lead­ing UEFA, he is a vice-pres­i­dent of FIFA. 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.

US Soc­cer de­clined to com­ment on Ce­ferin’s re­marks.

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