Donald Trump World Cup tweet targeting bid opponents shows ′cowboy mentality′ | World| Breakings news and perspectives from around the globe | DW | 28.04.2018
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Donald Trump World Cup tweet targeting bid opponents shows 'cowboy mentality'

Boosting the US's bid to host the 2026 football World Cup, 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 late this week 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.

Read more: Joint World Cup 2026 bid very much a US affair

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."

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'Cowboy mentality'

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 instead, 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.

Trump golfing (picture alliance/dpa/D. Lawson)

Trump is known more for the time he spends on the golf links than the soccer pitch

Read more: Germany rules out Russia World Cup boycott over nerve agent attack

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.

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