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German report suggests USA “discreetly reordered football” to aid World Cup bid

German outlet Süddeutsche Zeitung reveals how the USA helped to push Infantino into power to aid their World Cup bid.

Joe Brennan
El mandatario estadounidense se reunió con el presidente de la FIFA para abordar temas en torno al fútbol, como la Copa Mundial de 2026 y el ámbito femenino

Since we don’t have any scandals to talk about with the 2022 World Cup, it means we can all focus on 2026. Do I roll my eyes? Can I even be bothered?

Well, keep yours open, because German media outlet Süddeutsche Zeitung has today reported that the USA had help from FIFA in their winning bid for the 2026 World Cup. As we all know, in 2010, after the conclusion of the World Cup in South Africa, Russia and Qatar were awarded the 2018 and 2022 tournaments, respectively. The US was Qatar’s leading competitor for the 2022 edition but lost out 14 votes to 8 and, according to the report “made to look ridiculous” with Former US President Bill Clinton travelling FIFA headquarters “full of confidence” before “throwing ashtrays across the room” at the result.

The report, published by by Johannes Aumüller, Claudio Catuogno and Thomas Kistner, opens with the controversy surrounding both the 2018 and 2022 World Cup bids, as well the subsequent seismic waves that hit football with the ‘FIFA Gate’ scandals. But the journalists say there is a blind spot in the story: the USA.

Infantino smiles as he stands next to Head of state of Qatar, Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani and Russian President Vladimir Putin.
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Infantino smiles as he stands next to Head of state of Qatar, Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani and Russian President Vladimir Putin.ALEXEI NIKOLSKY / SPUTNIK / KREMEFE

Süddeutsche Zeitung claims that “the dominant great power reorganised football. But only until they had what they wanted: the 2026 World Cup in their own country.Former US President Donald Trump is also quoted in 2020 as saying “we really did it before we came into office. Before I came into office, we did it!” He is apparently referring to the World Cup being awarded to his country in 2016, before the official US candidacy was announced in 2018 and even before Trump himself moved into the White House in January 2017. Obviously, Infantino, when questioned, said the claims that he aided Trump were “untrue”. As you do.

The report explains how the USA did not want then-UEFA boss Michel Platini as the head of FIFA, after his vote lost the country the chance to host the 2022 World Cup. It claims “Platini had dined with the Emir of Qatar in the Élysée Palace in Paris” before switching ideas and going with “the desert camp” instead of the USA, sparking “more and more Americans” to make their way into FIFA roles to oust him.

When Blatter left FIFA after the explosion of the scandal, it is Platini who is the main candidate to replace him: America’s number one villain. “In the background” the report continues, “influential forces wanted apparently [Infantino to be FIFA President]”, as he would be the ideal opposition to the incoming Platini.

Sepp Blatter was removed as head of FIFA in 2015 after the FIFA Gate scandal.
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Sepp Blatter was removed as head of FIFA in 2015 after the FIFA Gate scandal.FABRICE COFFRINIAFP

In February 2016, Gianni Infantino is elected FIFA President, beating Sheikh Salman bin Ibrahim Al Chalifa from Bahrain 115:88 in the election. “It is above all the USA that put him in office; Sunil Gulati, President of the US Football Association and well connected with US politics, ensures that the vote is taken accordingly”, the report goes on to say, with “incomprehensible” meetings in 2015 between Federal Prosecutor’s Office boss Lauber and his spokesman and Infantino’s childhood friend Rinaldo Arnold apparently taking place.

In 2015, investigations were underway regarding UEFA and a TV rights deal with the Jinkis, a South American family. A huge profit margin was reportedly awarded to the Jinkis in this deal, signed by a certain Mr. Infantino. As well as this, the report claims that Infantino was making trips to the USA for reasons unknown. During this time, the aspiring FIFA President remained silent and refused to answer any questions from reporters on the matter. FIFA denied that Infantino had any relationship with the Jinkis and that the deal was done in a “completely correct” manner.

The report questions whether or not Infantino told investigators about this “dirty deal” during his time in America, about which he apparently lied to UEFA accountants. Soon after, head of investigation Lauber was forced to step down after apparently “doing nothing” to aid proceedings and five months later, the whole case was scrapped.

Moscow, 2018. 134 votes to 65: the USA has won the rights to the 2026 World Cup! Who saw that coming? I will let you make your own conclusions.

The report concludes by saying that “two lawyers are handling the preliminary case” against Infantino for alleged secret meetings in America and lying about expenses but they are known for “preferring to drop cases rather than bring them to court.”