By Andrew Warshaw
May 16 – Morocco’s request for four countries to be pulled from next month’s 2026 World Cup vote has received a non-committal response from FIFA with the simmering controversy quite possibly coming to a head at the ballot itself in Moscow.
The Moroccan bid team complained that the US territories of Guam, Puerto Rico, American Samoa and the US Virgin Islands should not retain a vote because of a conflict of interest since they are governed by the U.S.
The North American bid has strongly denied it has gained an unfair advantage amid suggestions of underhand tactics by FIFA. But Morocco believes that just as the two candidates are not allowed to vote, so that same principle should apply to the four countries in question.
FIFA’s response, seen by Insideworldfootball, appears to pass the buck by pointing out no action can be taken since the onus is on the four to exclude themselves.
“Any further questions arising in this context will be dealt with at the 68th in Moscow in accordance with the regulatory framework,” says the letter signed by FIFA secretary general Fatma Samoura.
That is unlikely to satisfy the Moroccans who feel the issue is a legal one and should therefore be dealt with ahead of time by the relevant organs and not by the Congress.
Morocco has faced one issue after another since entering the fray last summer, with FIFA president Gianni Infantino said to be in favour of the heavyweight North American bid.
The next stage in the process is the all-important publication of the FIFA evaluation panel’s recommendations which is slated for May 29 and will go a long way to determining whether Morocco can even make the ballot paper in Moscow.
Meanwhile, Moroccan FA chief Fouzi Lekjaas has written to all 207 FIFA voting nations urging them one last time not to be swayed simply by commercial factors when choosing their preferred option.
Much has been made of United 2026’s superior infrastracture and revenue streams for FIFA and mindful of how money talks, the Moroccans, on the back foot since day one, are trying everything to win over any wavering federations.
“The choice of the host country cannot only be determined by the capacity of a stadium or the economic maturity of a country but this choice must take into account the capacity of the World Cup to help promote the social and economic development of country and a whole continent,” says Lekjaas’s letter which might be interpreted by Morocco’s critics as smacking of desperation tactics.
“The honour of organising the biggest global sports competition cannot only be reserved for a small number of countries.”
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