“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’s warning is significant; in addition to his position leading European soccer, he is a vice president of FIFA, world soccer’s governing body and the organizer of the World Cup. 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.
The Trump administration’s proposed 90-day ban applied only to seven countries, but it caught the eye of world soccer officials because at least three of those countries have national teams that could be affected if it becomes more than a temporary policy. 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.
U.S. Soccer declined to comment on Mr. Ceferin’s remarks on Sunday. 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.
The 2026 World Cup will be the first to comprise 48 teams after FIFA unanimously agreed last month to expand the competition from its current 32-team format. A final decision on how many spots each confederation will be given is expected when FIFA meets on March 30, but Mr. Ceferin insisted that Europe’s conditions are clear: UEFA will demand 16 places, an increase of three teams, and request a…