(WFI) FIFA maintains that aside from the bidders, there will be no eligible national association excluded from casting a vote in the upcoming election to select the 2026 World Cup host.
Morocco recently raised questions about whether U.S. territories should be allowed to participate in the voting on June 13 in Moscow.
The North African country is competing against a U.S.-led North American joint bid for the right to organize the 2026 football tournament and it has questioned whether four American territories – American Samoa, Guam, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands – would be conflicted in the vote.
The four are considered separate football nations by FIFA so each has a vote. According to the FIFA regulations it is up to the delegates of such territories to declare if they feel conflicted in the vote.
“FIFA’s member associations are entitled to participate and vote in the FIFA Congress,” FIFA said in a statement to The Associated Press.
“Regarding potential conflicts of interest in the context of the voting procedure for the election of the host of the 2026 FIFA World Cup … at the time of writing, no member association has notified FIFA about its intention not to perform their duties in connection with the bidding procedure.”
A spokesman for the North American bid has told the Guardian newspaper : “This is not who’s under the reach of the Queen (of England) or who’s a former French colonial authority. This is who has a soccer federation. The Faroe Islands has a soccer federation, Iran has a soccer federation and that’s what this is about, a soccer tournament. This is not the United Nations.”
Morocco contends that its reservation refers to countries directly connected to bidding candidates, not others whose territories might have historic allegiances.
At the June 13 vote in the Russian capital, the only otherwise eligible countries prohibited from voting will be the four nations bidding for the 2026 event: Morocco, United States, Canada and Mexico. Guatemala is currently suspended by FIFA and will not be allowed to cast a ballot.
It will be the first time in more than 40 years that FIFA opens the vote to select a World Cup host to all its member associations. FIFA’s ruling executive committee chose the World Cup sites from for the tournaments between 1986 and 2022.
Morocco has also demanded world football’s body make sure that three FIFA Council members leave the room on the voting day or in meetings whenever World Cup 2026 issues are discussed.
They are American Samoa’s Sandra Fruean, former U.S president, Sunil Gulati, and Canada´s Victor Montagliani whose presence in conversations at the Council about the 2026 vote, according to Morocco, could give the North American United bid an unfair advantage in the upcoming election.
The United bid is thought to be the preferred option of FIFA president Gianni Infantino especially after its projected profit of $11 billion for the football body announced this week at the AIPS convention in Brussels.
That revenue certainly fulfills Infantino’s intentions to spread the wealth of FIFA as promised to the national associations when he was elected two years ago.
Players Against New Club World Cup
The professional footballers’ union (FIFPro) is concerned about the health of the players if FIFA adds or modifies international tournaments.
“In the light of the current discussions, it would be remiss if FIFPro did not explore the impact of these proposals on players,” said Bobby Barnes, president of FIFPro Europe.
Infantino is trying to gain support to enlarge the Club World Cup to 24 teams while also trying to create a biennial tournament for countries, the Global Nations League, grouping eight teams including the winners of international competitions in each of FIFA’s regional confederations.
Infantino promises in return up to $25 billion in revenues for these two competitions.
Barnes, a former striker who played in the English and Scottish leagues and in Hong Kong, says “while other stakeholders might have other priorities, the health of the players has to be our first priority.”
The European Leagues, an organization which represents the continent’s top domestic competitions, said last week that it opposed the plans and said FIFA had opened a “can of worms”.
Homepage photo: FIFA
By INSIDER Javier Monne
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