Miami - The head of CONCACAF responded to Donald Trump's "shithole" slur on Friday, emphasising the region's embrace of diversity as it enters a key phase in its bid for the 2026 Soccer World Cup.
Victor Montagliani, the president of the confederation for football in North America, Central America and the Caribbean (CONCACAF), took to Twitter to address Trump's remarks, which have been branded as racist at home and abroad.
"In the footballing community we understand that diversity of experience and background provides strength to the team," Montagliani wrote on Twitter above a link to a news story about the Trump comments.
"The @CONCACAF family stands alongside those in and from Haiti, El Salvador and around the world, in reminding that all are welcome on the field. #UNITY," Montagliani added.
Trump ignited a storm of controversy on Thursday after denouncing immigration to the United States from "shithole countries" during a meeting with lawmakers.
The comment was widely condemned as racist, although Trump later denied saying "anything derogatory" about the people of Haiti.
The controversy flared just two months before the United States, Canada and Mexico must formally submit their joint bid to stage the 2026 Soccer World Cup to world governing body FIFA on March 16.
The CONCACAF region's bid has long been seen as the clear front-runner in the race for the tournament, which has so far seen only one other country - Morocco - confirm plans to bid for the event.
The 37-member FIFA Council will decide in June whether one or both of the two bids will advance to a final vote at the 68th FIFA Congress in Moscow on June 13.
If neither bid is ultimately successful, other regions could enter the running in a revised bid process which would exclude the initial bidders - possibly paving the way for a bid from Europe or Asia.