Boosting the US bid to host the 2026 football World Cup, US President Donald Trump indirectly criticized Morocco for daring to compete. Unsurprisingly, his comments didn't go over well with Moroccans.
US President Donald Trump wrote a tweet in which he indirectly attacked Morocco for applying to host the 2026 football World Cup -- a move that, in Trump's view, seems to be a provocation.
The United States is aiming to host the soccer tournament in 2026 and because of the aid it provides to other nations, Trump said other countries should not work against US aims.
That's what the president made clear, albeit indirectly, in his Friday tweet. Trump is convinced the joint US-Canada-Mexico application to host the tournament has a good shot at succeeding. He tweeted that "it would be a shame if countries that we always support were to lobby against the US bid," implying that potential bid competitors would risk losing their financial aid.
Acting like an 'imperial power'
Trump's message did not go down well in Morocco.
"The US president acts like one would expect from an imperial power," Nabila Mounib, the general secretary of the Unified Socialist Party (PSU), told DW. "We've been observing this behavior in all relationships between the US and countries of the global south."
"Trump is well versed in the language of intimidation and threats, but we Moroccans should no be concerned by the logic of the jungle," Mounib said, insisting that every country is entitled to make a bid. "Instead, we should try creating a more humane, fraternal and just global order."
Moroccan actress Latifa Ahrar was similarly surprised by Trump's comments. "This tweet belongs to the realm of psychological warfare," she told DW. "It shows his cowboy mentality."
Moroccans should not react emotionally but continue with their World Cup bid in a rational manner, Ahrar said.
"Our response should take the form of a good application. It depends also on changing some of our attitudes. Then we can openly welcome guest nations during the World Cup, welcome other cultures and practice tolerance," she said. Ahrar is no stranger to intolerance, having been attacked by conservative Moroccans for her public appearances and the way she dresses.
There are others who take a similar view. "This tweet is like intellectual terrorism and it is highly arrogant towards other nations," said Murad al-Qadri, who heads the House of Poetry in Morocco. He was not surprised by the tweet. "Ever since coming to power, Trump has shown hostility toward other nations' rights," he said.
Critics take to social media
Many Moroccans commented on Trump's tweet on social media, with one suspecting that the message shows the US president is secretly concerned about Morocco's power. Another theorized that Trump was "scared" of the country.
Other social media users, in turn, thought Trump's tweet would ultimately help Morocco's World Cup bid as other countries sympathize with being the target of Trump's statements.
Some said the president's comment reminded them of when Trump allegedly spoke of the "shithole countries" in Africa in January, a comment which provoked widespread condemnation. Others reminded their fellow social media commentators that Trump had previously banned people from six Muslim-majority countries from traveling to the United States.
Many other social media users in other Arab countries voiced criticism of Trump's tweet, expressing their solidarity with Morocco.
The US last hosted the World Cup in 1994. Morocco has applied to hold the tournament five times but has never hosted the event. On June 13, FIFA's General Assembly will decide who gets to host the event in 2026. This year's event will take place in Russia.
Russia 2018: The venues
Luzhniki Stadium, Moscow
The main stadium, which is home to the Russian national team, has a capacity of 81,000. It will be the venue for both the opening match and the World Cup final, as well as one of the semifinals. The stadium, which has been renovated for the World Cup, has previously hosted a Champions League final and the Summer Olympic Games.
Saint Petersburg Stadium
The new home of Zenit St. Petersburg holds 68,000 spectators. It is the venue for one of the semifinals and the third-place match. It will also host a game in the last 16 and group stage matches, including one of Russia's clashes. Saint Petersburg Stadium was also a venue for the 2017 Confederations Cup.
The Yekateringburg Arena, which was built in 1953 has been refurbished for the 2018 World Cup. The stadium, with a capacity of 35,000, is the home of FC Ural of the Russian first division. Yekaterinburg is the furthest east of the host cities.
Rostov Arena, with a capacity of 45,000 is one of the new stadiums built specifically for the World Cup. The stadium will host four group-stage games and one match in the last 16. It will become the new home of FC Rostov after next summer's tournament.
This venue was built on the site of the old Central Stadium in Volgograd near the Volga river. It can hold over 45,000 spectators and will only be used for the group stage. After the World Cup, it will become the home of Rotor Volgograd, a club currently playing in Russia's second division. Volgograd used to be known as Stalingrad.
Nizhny Novgorod Stadium
This 45,000 capacity stadium was built specifically for the World Cup. It will host four group-stage games as well as a round-of-16 match and a quarterfinal. After the tournament, it is expected to become the home ground of Olimpiyets Nizhny Novgorod of the Russian second division, although in March 2017, then-regional governor Valery Shantsev said it would also be used for other sporting events.
This is the only World Cup venue in an exclave of Russia -- Kaliningrad is a territory between Poland and Lithuania. The 35,000-capacity stadium was built specifically for the World Cup and will be downsized after the tournament. It is only a venue for the group stage and will become the new home of Baltika Kaliningrad, a club in Russia's second division.
German architect Tim Hupe designed this brand new bowl stadium for the World Cup. The stadium has a capacity of 44,000 and will only host matches in the group stage. After the tournament, the upper seating will be dismantled and the stadium will be handed over to third-tier Russian side Mordovia Saransk.
This 44,000 capacity stadium was built for the World Cup on an island south of Samara where no settlements or infrastructure previously existed. This is where hosts Russia will play their final group game. A last-16 match and a quarterfinal will also be played in the stadium, which is to become the home of Krylya Sovetov, currently in the Russian second division, after the tournament.
Though it was used for the Confederations Cup, the Spartak Stadium, with a capacity of 45,000, will only be used for four group stage games and one first knockout stage game. The arena was re-opened in 2014 and is the home of Spartak Moscow. One of the most well-known clubs in Russia, Spartak had to wait many years for their own stadium.
A venue for the Confederations Cup, Kazan Arena will be used for a last 16 game, a quarterfinal and four group stage games. The capacity of the stadium is 41,585. Vladimir Putin laid the cornerstone for the stadium before it opened in 2013. It is the home ground of Rubin Kazan.
This 41,220-capacity stadium was constructed for the 2014 Winter Olympic Games. A large section of the roof has been removed to accommodate football. A last 16 match and a quarterfinal will be played here as well as four group games.
Author: Davis VanOpdorp (AFP)