Donald Trump's travel ban could wreck U.S. bid for 48-team tournament

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Donald Trump's travel ban could wreck U.S. bid for 48-team tournament

Gianni Infantino, the president of the worldwide soccer governing body, said on Thursday that the president's executive order preventing people from six Muslim-majority nations from entering the U.S. could put America out of the running for even bidding to hold the iconic tournament.

The US last hosted the World Cup 23 years ago at World Cup USA '94, where Brazil triumphed after beating Italy on penalties in the final, courtesy of Italian sensation Roberto Baggio missing his deciding spot kick in the shootout.

But with Trump seeking to ban nationals from several Muslim-majority countries, Infantino says the U.S. may not even be in a position to submit a bid.

The ban as it stands now would prevent immigration from six Muslim-majority countries, including Iran, who made the World Cup in 2014.

The 2026 World Cup will be the first to feature an enlarged 48-team format.

It's inevitable that Donald Trump's policies regarding immigrants, refugees and Muslim travelers to the United States will cause problems with worldwide relations on all fronts, and that includes sports.

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Only one of the countries now banned under Trump's recently revised travel ban has qualified for the World Cup in the past: Iran, which has made it to the final rounds four times.

Infantino stated that full bid requirements would be unveiled in the near future.

"It will be part of the evaluation, and I am sure it will not help the United States to get the World Cup", UEFA president Aleksander Ceferin told the New York Times.

Infantino said in London on Thursday: 'Whether that particular case was an injustice or not, we can leave it to the judgement of the referee (Germany's Deniz Aytekin). And then each country can make up their decision, whether they want to bid or not based on the requirements. "He's in charge, together with his government, to take the decisions that are best for his country".

"The requirements will be clear", he said.

Federation Internationale de Football Association itself is no stranger to controversy when it comes to World Cup bids - it's admitted to taking bribes for them in the past. "Nothing to do with the U.S. or not, it's general sporting criterion".

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