Although FIFA pledges no political interference in its tournaments, several African countries backed their decision to vote for the North American bid due to politics.
Namibian news sources linked the country’s decision to its stance on the Western Sahara conflict. The country has supported the independence claims of the separatist group, Polisario Front.
While the Western Sahara could be the reason for Namibia’s stance against Morocco 2026, Donald Trump’s threatening tweet could also be a key factor behind Namibia’s pledged support for United 2026, the bid put forward by Canada, the US, and Mexico.
Politics and charities before unity
Politicizing sports has become a trend. South Africa, which had pledged support for Morocco 2026 in April, changed its vote a few days after US President Trump tweeted a threatening message to countries that support the African bid.
“It would be a shame if countries that we always support were to lobby against the US bid,” he tweeted.
Trump also threatened to cut support for countries that will not support the US bid.
“Why should we be supporting these countries when they don’t support us (including at the United Nations)?” Trump asked in his infamous tweet on April 26.
Morocco, however, is mobilizing its bid committee to promote its bid until the last day.
CEO of the Moroccan bid Hicham El Amrani told the BBC on May 11 that no one is “forced” to back the Moroccan bid “if he believes that it doesn’t serve the country or the country’s football interest.”
“Even if Africa has always acted in unity, unity does not mean 100% of all the member associations, this is part of the democratic process.”
Moroccan newspaper Al Ahdath Al Maghribia reported today that US ambassadors in several countries have been conveying Trump’s threatening message to withhold aid.
Trump’s tweet may have also influenced Saudi Arabia, which publicly announced its support for the United 2026 bid on June 5, to protect its national interests.
Liberia also announced its support for the US 2026 World Cup on May 25, while Uganda said it is not sure to which bid it should give its vote.
The FIFA task force that evaluated the bids gave Morocco the green light to move to the ballot on June 1. Football federations from all corners of the world will meet in Moscow on June 13 to cast their vote for one of the two bids.