Littlefield: FIFA Apparently Found Some Of Its Limits With Trump Tweets

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Donald Trump has been very active on Twitter, especially since his election to the Presidency. Recently, he stirred up controversy with his tweets on a World Cup bid by the U.S., Canada and Mexico. (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)
President Trump has stirred up controversy with his tweets about the U.S.'s joint World Cup bid. (Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

Office holders do not fare well when they’re introduced during the ceremonies before the game on Opening Day.

Likewise Vice Presidents who leave football games early, whatever the pretext.

Many are the mayors who’ve been pilloried for diverting the kids’ free lunch fund to a billionaire threatening to move his team. Then their honors get slammed when the teams leave.

The impulse behind President Trump’s recent tweet in support of the joint bid by the U.S., Canada and Mexico to host the 2026 World Cup may have been at least consistent. The U.S. is the big kid in that partnership. It can be argued that hosting another World Cup would make the country greater. At least when you’re the host, you’re guaranteed a spot in the tournament, which, as the most recent round of qualifying has demonstrated, is not something this nation can take for granted.

But then the President went on to tweet as follows: “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)?”

The second part of that tweet set off alarm bells at FIFA. A spokesperson for soccer’s governing body pointed out that FIFA’s regulations, “prohibit governments from activities that may adversely affect the integrity of the Bidding Process and create an undue influence on the Bidding Process.”

There is no record of whether the spokesperson choked on the word “integrity,” or perhaps winked. But this is a remarkable development. The transfer of sacks filled with money to various delegates didn’t set off any alarm bells at FIFA. To say, as a recent story in The Hill did, that, “FIFA has its own history of scandal” is a flabbergasting understatement. To paraphrase my friend and colleague Charlie Pierce, other sports may from time to time brush up against organized crime, but only FIFA IS organized crime.

To be flagged for an ethics violation by FIFA is to be accused of curious accounting practices by Bernie Madoff.

Various authorities have been investigating corruption charges with regard to the selection of Russia and Qatar as sites for the 2018 and 2022 World Cup Tournaments. In light of FIFA’s gleeful disregard of its own policies and procedures over the years, who’s surprised? But apparently even FIFA felt compelled to squawk when the chief executive of a bidding nation implied that it certainly would be a shame if something were to happen to those nice aid packages certain countries have been receiving.

Maybe those alarm bells rang because Donald Trump didn’t even bother to close the door or check the room for bugs. He tried to strong-arm the voting delegates publicly, by Tweet. Interesting to learn there are limits, even for FIFA.


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Bill Littlefield Host, Only A Game
Bill Littlefield was the host of Only A Game from 1993 until 2018.



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