FIFA demands visa, work permits and exemptions

Reuters, MANCHESTER, England

Thu, Nov 09, 2017 - Page 16

The US and other countries hoping to host the 2026 FIFA World Cup should provide government guarantees on visa-free travel plus work permit and tax exemptions for their bids to be accepted, according to documents published by FIFA on Tuesday.

The US wants to host the 2026 tournament in a joint bid with Canada and Mexico, who would also have to commit to the government guarantees for their proposal to be accepted by FIFA.

Morocco is the only other country to have indicated they would bid for the finals, which are to be the first to feature an expanded 48-team field.

FIFA wants a visa-free environment, or at least non-discriminatory visa procedures, while the work permit exemptions apply to anyone involved with the World Cup and tax exemptions relate to the soccer governing body and its subsidiaries.

While FIFA has asked for — and received — similar exemptions in the past, their inclusion in a revamped World Cup bid process would mean the administration of US President Donald Trump would need to sign off on the exemptions.

Sunil Gulati, chairman of the joint US, Mexican and Canadian United Bid Committee has previously stated that Trump supports the attempt to bring the World Cup to the US, which hosted the 1994 finals.

FIFA produced new bidding criteria after the organization was heavily criticized over the selection process for the 2018 and 2022 World Cup finals, won by Russia and Qatar respectively.

Formal submission of the completed bids has to be made by March 16 next year and FIFA is to decide whether to select one of the candidate bids at their congress in June next year, or reopen the process if none of the bids are accepted.

Regarding immigration and travel guarantees, the FIFA overview document on government guarantees 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,” it said.