Moulay Hafid Elalamy, chairman of the Morocco bid committee for the 2026 FIFA World Cup, delivers a speech shortly before the vote at the 68th FIFA Congress on Wednesday. Photo: REUTERS/Sergei Karpukhin

MOSCOW, Russia – South Africa was one of 11 African states to snub Morocco’s bid to host the 2026 World Cup after votes were revealed to the public for the first time. For the first time in Fifa’s history, the voting system was an open affair with the world governing body making the results public leading to much controversy after North America’s joint-bid won the right to host the 2026 World Cup.

A tight race was expected between Morocco and the USA, Mexico and Canada’s combined bid, but the North Africans failed miserably to compete gaining just 65 votes to 134 by the eventual winners. USA will host 60 of the 80 matches in 2026 with the remaining shared between their co-hosts.

One of those cast in favour of the new hosts was South Africa although it was far less of a surprise with a statement by sports minister, Tokozile Xasa‚ who confirmed South Africa would not support Morocco, presumably as part of wider political decision taken by government with the two country’s having somewhat strained relations.

Ghana curiously failed to cast their vote while South Africa’s neighbours Namibia, Botswana, Lesotho, Mozambique and Zimbabwe joined Benin, Cape Verde, Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone in favouring the North American bid over their continental allegiance.

Morocco’s bid also failed to gain traction in Europe with only Albania, Belarus, Belgium, Estonia, France, Italy, Luxembourg, Serbia, The Netherlands and Turkey showing support. The new open system, an attempt by Fifa to show some transparency at the highest level after years marred by corruption and scandal, also revealed two surprising late changes with Brazil going against South America’s decision to support the USA.

It was also revealed that Russia made an unexpected late switch of allegiance by casting their vote in support of the Northern American trio when previously backing Morocco as their preferred host. 

African News Agency (ANA)

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