Donald Trump loves to make things about himself. He loves credit. He loves praise. He loves to turn occasions like Memorial Day, supposedly a day of remembrance, into opportunities to tell the country how wonderful he is.
So on Friday morning, 48 hours after U.S. Soccer president Carlos Cordeiro and other soccer officials brought the men’s World Cup back to North America for the first time since 1994, Donald Trump sent out a ridiculous tweet taking credit for the years-long effort:
Thank you for all of the compliments on getting the World Cup to come to the U.S.A., Mexico and Canada. I worked hard on this, along with a Great Team of talented people. We never fail, and it will be a great World Cup! A special thanks to Bob Kraft for excellent advice.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 15, 2018
Trump made no mention of Cordeiro or anybody else from the bid team who jetted around Europe and Asia for over a month, sometimes visiting three countries in a day, on minimal sleep. He made no mention of any of the architects of a bid whose foundation was laid more than a decade ago.
But “I worked hard on this,” he says. And “thank you for all the compliments for getting the World Cup to come” here, he says, implying it was his doing.
Which is just absurd. Your eyes should be rolling right now. Trump did nothing beyond the absolute minimum required of the federal government of a bidding nation.
Does Trump deserve credit?
The short answer is no. A lot of other people, including former U.S. Soccer president Sunil Gulati, deserve a lot more credit than they’re getting. Trump, on the other hand, deserves a lot less credit than he’s getting.
The longer answer is that Trump – who did play a role in the bid, albeit a small one – merely assuaged fears about himself. He didn’t actively derail the bid, which at one point seemed like a real possibility.
Trump made 2026 World Cup-related headlines twice throughout the process. First, he tweeted (and, days later, spoke) about the bid, and appeared to threaten countries who did not vote for the United Bid with political retribution.
The story at that point was that Trump was hurting the North American effort. He is the source of growing anti-American sentiment around the world, and his words were emblematic of that. ESPN reported in February that Trump was the main reason Morocco posed a bigger threat to the United Bid than many realized. Based on the quality of the bids, the race shouldn’t have been close. Thanks to Trump, it was.
The second time Trump’s name was in the news alongside the bid was on the eve of the vote. The New York Times reported that Trump had sent three letters to FIFA, reassuring soccer’s global governing body that foreign teams and fans would not have trouble traveling to the United States for the 2026 tournament. “In effect, the letters assured officials … that Trump’s hard-line stance on visas would not apply to the World Cup,” the Times wrote.
So the story, essentially, was, “Trump ensures Trump policies won’t affect 2026 World Cup.” All Trump did was try to undo his own harm. He provided standard assurances that every single other federal government would provide if its nation were bidding for a World Cup. He did the absolute minimum.
Cordeiro and others praised Trump, and thanked him for his support, because of course they did. They had to. They needed that minimum support. And they needed to spin Trump’s association with the bid as a positive, whether it actually was or not.
But the U.S., Canada and Mexico won the right to host the 2026 World Cup because their bid was far superior to that of Morocco, and because Cordeiro and many others worked hours on end to convince voters of that, not because of anything Trump did.
As German soccer federation president Richard Grindel said after the vote: “Trump’s comments hurt the bid more than they helped it.”
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More 2026 coverage from Yahoo Sports:
• All you need to know about a World Cup in North America
• Schaerlaeckens: Successful bid marks start of U.S. Soccer 3.0
• Ranking potential U.S. host cities, from most to least likely