By: Amjad Mustafa Amin
KHARTOUM (Sudanow) - Africans did not let down their fellow Moroccans when they openly weighed in, in support of the North African nation’s bid to host the World Football Cup, 2026.
By all appearances, it is now clear that African politics is having its say in supporting Morocco against the joint bid by the North Americans (U.S, Canada and Mexico) to host the grand event.
Meeting in Morocco on 2 February, the General Assembly of the Confederation of African Football (The CAF) announced its backing for Morocco to host the games.
But this African move may not go down well with the World football governing body (The FIFA), that has already cautioned its 211 member countries against any attempt to influence the voters on the selection of the country that should host the event.
Hitherto the naming of the World Cup hosts was decided by the FIFA Executive Committee. But this time the FIFA has decided to name the games’ host country by general vote from all member states.
This is Morocco’s fifth bid to host the World Cup. The U.S, Canada and Mexico have presented a joint dossier to host the games. Morocco considers its bid “an entire African bid.”
In a circular, dubbed “Integrity Warning” the FIFA General Secretary Fatma Samora has urged all voting countries to avoid influencing the vote which will be held on June 13, the eve of the World Cup kick off in Russia.
Ms. Samoura’s circular warns voters not to accept any technical or development support which may unduly affect the integrity of the bidding procedure.
Nonetheless, the CAF President Ahmed Ahmed, in a statement to the press, could not conceal his strong backing of the Moroccan bid. He urged all CAF 54 member states to stand united behind Morocco.
“There is no room for discussions. As CAF president, it is an obligation for me to support Morocco’s bid.”
CAF president added that it is unfortunate that “a Continent with an impressive football history hosted the world cup only once throughout history.”
The only African country, which won the right to host FIFA’s World Cup was South Africa. The southernmost African country was a host for the tournament in 2010.
Ahmed has also repeated his assertions in the presence of the FIFA’s President Ginanni Infantino when he said he would support Morocco despite the FIFA warning not to conclude agreements among the football federations until after the voting is over on the host nation.
Ahmed had also stated at a press conference in Casablanca that he can’t stand neutral with respect to the candidacy of Morocco. That is because the Moroccan Kingdom is part of Africa, he said.
It is not embarrassing if football federations disclose the country they want to vote for, because it is going to be an open vote under the FIFA eyes, he said.
For its part Sudan did not let down the Moroccans. Sudan football Federation (SFA) Chairman, Dr. Kamal Shaddad, has disclosed his Federation’s backing of the Moroccan candidacy. However, he said he would discuss the matter with the Presidency of the Republic, according to SFA General Secretary Hassan Abujabal who also took part in the CAF General Assembly in Casablanca.
Indicating the statement of the FIFA President upon the need for integrity in selecting the World Cup host country, Dr. Abujabal said:”what concerns us is the purging of the voting operation whereas when the voting is over, all will applaud for the winning nation.”
Then the question: Now that the FIFA has granted its general assembly, including the SFA, the right to vote instead of the previous arrangement when the FIFA Executive Committee had the exclusive right to elect the World Cup host nation, would politicians agree with sportsmen to boost the Morocco dossier or, else, the politicians have another say? That is a question to be answered in the coming few days.
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