By Andrew Warshaw
April 24 – With precision timing given the growing geo-political tension between FIFA and UEFA, the head of African football has urged Europe to back Morocco’s bid to stage the 2026 World Cup.
Ahmad Ahmad, the Confederation of African Football (CAF) president, says that in return Africa will support the next European bid, likely to be for 2030, telling AFP: “Vote for us and we’ll vote for you next time.”
Garnering European support is pivotal for Morocco to stand any chance of upsetting the odds on June 13, a scenario clearly not lost on Ahmad, who replaced long-serving Issa Hayatou as head of CAF in March 2017.
He says that a Moroccan World Cup would offer significant advantages to Europe.
“Time zones, distance, fans, they are all of interest to Europe,” said Ahmad. “Visas also: Europeans don’t need a visa to come to Morocco. For all of that, we think that Europe should vote for Morocco.”
Ahmad’s comments come at a particularly sensitive time with both UEFA and the European Club Association increasingly irritated over the FIFA administration’s perceived policy of conquer and divide under Gianni Infantino.
Mounting controversy surrounds Infantino’s call for an emergency meeting of FIFA’s six confederation leaders to address the infamous $25 billion offer for the Club World Cup and Nations League that would change the entire landscape and structure of world football.
The Nations League, the first edition of which gets under way in Europe later this year, was initially very much a UEFA concept rather than a global affair (though CONCACAF have plans in place to host their own version) but UEFA’s thunder looks set to be effectively stolen if FIFA takes control of the event.
European clubs and leagues, anxious at the international calendar being stretched, are equally opposed to the Infantino proposal of a 24-strong Club World Cup to be held in June and played every four years, with the Confederations Cup scrapped in the process.
All this will be keenly noted by Morocco’s 2026 World Cup bid team who have been largely on the back foot throughout the rivalry with the heavily favoured joint bid of the USA, Canada and Mexico.
With Infantino understood to be privately strongly in favour of a north American tournament in 2026, Morocco will hope that Ahmad’s timely plea to European voters, right at the time when some federations might be wavering, will work against the FIFA president’s preference leading up to the ballot.
Having said that, there will be many more political twists and turns in the weeks ahead.
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