Morocco has asked FIFA to exclude four United States-governed territories from the vote to decide where the 2026 World Cup will be staged.
Football’s world governing body has not yet responded to the request, which Press Association reported was made more than two weeks ago, as tensions escalate in the build-up to the vote in Moscow on June 13. Morocco is up against a joint North American bid from Canada, Mexico and the U.S.
None of the bidding nations can vote, but Morocco believes that should also extend to American Samoa, Guam, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.
The North African country has also asked FIFA to make sure that FIFA Council members Sandra Fruean, Sunil Gulati and Victor Montagliani leave the room whenever World Cup 2026 issues are discussed, as they are from American Samoa, the U.S. and Canada, respectively.
Promising access to the world’s largest market and a host of top-class venues, the United bid is thought to be the preferred option of FIFA president Gianni Infantino. The bid’s projected profit would be welcome as Infantino looks to fund the development handouts he promised national associations when elected in 2016.
Morocco’s profit target is less than half of that figure — although it is understood its bid team is sceptical about the United bid’s projection — and it is basing its pitch on a broadcaster-friendly time zone, shorter journeys and passion for the game.
The challenge for Morocco, which has failed in four previous bids, has always been to make sure there is a vote, as FIFA has beefed up the technical criteria any prospective host must meet.
Both bids for 2026 had to deliver comprehensive plans to FIFA in March and those plans, detailed in weighty bid books, have been assessed by a task force of FIFA executives in visits last month.
The task force made a second trip to Morocco last week — a development that was jumped on by the United bid as an example of the problems Morocco has in satisfying the criteria. The Moroccans, on the other hand, believe this was another example of the extra scrutiny they face.
Moroccan bid chief executive Hicham El Amrani said the second task force visit was about “clarifications not issues” and he was “extremely satisfied” with how the visit went.
He did, however, admit to being “a bit surprised” when he was told the task force would be scoring each bid on the criteria out of five and any score less than two on four key areas — accommodation, stadiums, transport and training sites — would automatically disqualify the bid.
The Moroccan bid has chosen not to complain about U.S. President Trump’s veiled threat via Twitter to no longer “support” nations who do not vote for the United bid.
The next stage in the process is when the council receives the all-important reports from the task force. These assessments are expected to be published on May 29, which is when Morocco will learn if it will be on the ballot two weeks later.
This content was originally published here.