FIFA calls for visa, work permit and tax exemptions for 2026 football World Cup may be opposed by Trump

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Documents released by world football governing body, FIFA demand that countries bidding to host the 2026 football World Cup offer visa-free travel, plus work permit and tax exemptions if they want their bids to be accepted. The scandal hit organisation wants a ‘visa-free environment, or at the very least, non-discriminatory visa procedures.’

Sanwar Ali comments:

It seems quite likely that under President Trump the US will not be able to meet FIFA requirements to host the 2026 Football World Cup., With harsh and difficult US visa requirements it seems likely that under the current US visa system some footballers and others wishing to visit the US for the FIFA games will be refused entry.

Recently the US Supreme Court has allowed the Trump “Travel Ban” to continue at least for the time being. The ban affects citizens of Chad, Iran, Libya, North Korea, Somalia, Syria, Venezuela, and Yemen. This will surely make it even less likely that the US and it’s partners will host the FIFA World Cup.

Meanwhile, work permit immunity should apply to anyone involved with the World Cup and tax freedoms should be granted to soccer’s governing body, along with its subsidiaries.

The United States has indicated its interest in hosting the 2026 event as part of a joint bid with Canada and Mexico. Morocco is currently the only other nation to have expressed an interest in staging the finals, which will be the first to feature the expanded 48-team format.

Exemptions in US Visa requirements would need to be signed off by President Trump

Despite FIFA asking for – and receiving – similar exemptions in the past, the USA’s World Cup bid would require current US president, Donald Trump, to sanction any exemptions. Since his inauguration as president in January 2017, Trump has sought to tighten US immigration policy, issuing a series of high-profile executive orders.

However, Sunil Gulati, chairman of the joint US, Mexican and Canadian ‘United Bid Committee’, insists that Trump is backing the attempt to bring the World Cup to the States, which last hosted the finals in 1994.

New World Cup bidding criteria

Following controversy and heavy criticism surrounding the selection process for the 2018 and 2022 World Cups, won by Russia and Qatar respectively, FIFA introduced a new bidding process. Awarding Russia and Qatar the right to host the World Cup plunged world soccer’s governing body into turmoil as reports of widespread corruption emerged.

Ironically, it was the US Department of Justice that indicted several top FIFA executives, including former FIFA president Sepp Blatter and UEFA president Michel Platini. The pair were banned from any football related activity for eight years by FIFA’s ethics committee.

The new bidding process means that a formal submission of completed bids must be made by March 16, 2018. FIFA will then make a decision on whether to select one of the bids during their congress in June 2018. If no bid is accepted, the process will be re-opened.

Immigration and travel guarantees

Referring to immigration and travel guarantees for the 2026 World Cup, an excerpt from FIFA’s recently released overview document states: “In order to cover the needs of the respective groups of individuals, the government is requested to generally establish a visa-free environment or facilitate existing visa procedures for them. Regardless, any visa procedures must be applied in a non-discriminatory manner.”

Prior to his inauguration as president, Trump’s surge to the White House was powered by anti-immigrant sentiment and propaganda. Supporters jumped on the Trump bandwagon as he called for a total ban on Muslims entering the US as part of counter terrorism measures. His stance appeared justified as so-called acts of terrorism escalated around the world.

However, the courts have blocked his most recent executive order attempting to prevent entry into the US for people from several Muslim-majority nations.

Despite FIFA’s demands for visa exemptions, its overview document states: “It is understood that such ease of access to the host country/host countries must by no means adversely affect the national immigration and security standards in the host country/host countries.”

Additionally, the document says: “A bidding country’s government is requested to guarantee the granting of valid work permits for people involved in the preparation, organisation and hosting of the tournament, unconditionally and without any restriction or prejudice of any kind.”

Equally, “the host nation’s government must grant a general tax exemption for FIFA, the 2026 FWC (FIFA World Cup) Entity, the 2026 FWC Subsidiaries (if applicable) and any other FIFA subsidiary limited to the period of preparation, delivery and wrap-up of the Competition, commencing on the date of appointment of the host country/host countries and ending on 31 December, 2028,” the document adds.

FIFA’s new bidding guidelines come in the aftermath of the 2015 corruption crisis that shrouded soccer’s governing body. As part of the reforms, the latest guidelines include ethics, human rights and transparency commitments plus demands on stadium size and infrastructure.