Top U.S. diplomat criticizes FIFA armband threat at World Cup
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WASHINGTON (CNN) — A top U.S. diplomat on Monday criticized FIFA’s threat to ban American players from playing on its national team should they go to its World Cup.
In a strongly worded statement published Friday, FIFA President Joseph Blatter threatened to ban any American from the U.S. team for a match should Washington and the rest of the world decide it was unfair to American players competing against Team USA.
“We call on FIFA to rescind this irresponsible and discriminatory act which can only undermine the game in the United States and the rest of the world,” William E. O’Brien, special envoy for trade, investment and development, wrote.
“It is an affront to the highest standards of sportsmanship, fair play, and human rights, and it will inevitably result in the loss of a team that has been a true success story for its fans and the U.S. Soccer Association,” he added.
O’Brien’s statement was issued as the United States and Canada prepare to compete in the World Cup qualifying round next week, beginning with a match against the United States.
The Canadian team is one game away from joining the Americans in the qualifying round, but the Americans still meet Canada in the final round in the Caribbean.
While the U.S. and Canada aren’t officially at war, the threat to ban the Americans is the latest in a series of recent public statements from international soccer bodies that question the eligibility of American players.
The issue has recently been brought to the forefront after it was revealed that the U.S. soccer federation had accepted an offer from MLS to field an American team.
MLS, a major North American soccer league, has threatened to