Rabat- In the same way that Joseph Blatter, the previous FIFA president, practically gave away the 2010 World Cup to South Africa, FIFA’s current president, Gianni Infantino, is attempting to similarly influence the outcome of the 2026 World Cup in favor of United 2026.
Infantino has created one obstacle after another to counter the momentum Morocco has been building in the last few months. He started by sending a letter to FIFA federations, asking members to remain neutral in their selection of the 2026 World Cup host.
Despite his ostensible neutrality, Infantino was acting strategically, urging the African football federations to wait on their announcements of support for Morocco’s bid.
Infantino further demonstrated his United loyalties when he barred Morocco from presenting its bid to the African Confederation Congress, while simultaneously allowing the United 2026 leaders to present their credentials to the Council of Southern Africa Football Associations (COSAFA).
Having arrived in Casablanca on February 2 to attend the 40th Ordinary General Assembly of Confederation of African Football (CAF), Infantino stated, “I ask you to do everything possible to make the process as healthy as possible. It is about our credibility.”
Infantino’s remarks, however, did not please CAF’s President Ahmad Ahmad. In response to Infantino’s call, Ahmad said, “We live in an era of democracy. You are free to make your decision.” The CAF president, who has been expressing his full support for Morocco’s bid from the beginning, added, “I have my position, the executive committee supports me in my position, but it is up to you to decide.”
It’s no secret that the FIFA president wants to give United 2026 the bid, in order to thank the Americans for removing former FIFA President Joseph Blatter from office. Infantino also owes US Soccer Federation President Sunil Gulati for encouraging federations to support the current president during the election process.
That is to say, Infantino has a large debt owed to the Americans. He knows that without Gulati’s help, he would never have won the FIFA presidency, as Jordan’s Prince Ali Bin Al Hussein was the clear favorite to win.
Despite Infantino’s efforts to disqualify the Moroccan bid, more and more countries have started to voice their support for Morocco. South Africa and Kenya are the latest countries to pledge support for the Moroccan bid.
To prevent Morocco from reaching the final vote on June 13, Infantino devised a five-man evaluation task force, handpicked by the FIFA president himself. Currently evaluating the Moroccan bid, the task force will submit each country’s score based on five major criteria.
Widespread speculation has worried that the task force will score Morocco’s bid poorly, without considering future infrastructural development planned across the next eight years.
Furthermore, new voting option to “abstain” has been added to the ballot, allowing FIFA members to refrain from voting due to politics, when they should be making a choice instead.
Morocco published by FRMF in response, in which the North African country’s bid committee leader expressed his concerns about the fairness and transparency of the procedure.
Expressing concern alone will not make Infantino rescind his plan, and Morocco will need to do more than simply express its worries and surprise if it wants to win the privilege of hosting the World Cup. Unless some major changes take place, Morocco will be virtually out of the running before the vote even begins.
To generate a real response, Morocco could convince the 54 African soccer federations to threaten to boycott the 2026 World Cup, should Morocco be unfairly disadvantaged by the last-minute task force addendum.
As it stands, Morocco’s dream to host the World Cup is perhaps wishful thinking, considering that FIFA’s current president holds all the real power, just like biased Blatter before him. We can only hope the collective federation response can generate real accountability in the football world’s governing body.