Why some African countries voted against Morocco bid for 2026 world cup
Voting process for 2026 world cup bid lost by Morocco. AP Photo/Pavel Golovkin)
London, June 19, 2018 (AltAfrika)-Morocco’s fifth bid to host the World Cup, like its previous four, ended in disappointment. Now, more facts are beginning to emerge as to the main reason (s) why some African countries went against the spirit of brotherhood and refused to back Morocco.
After a vote by FIFA member nations on June 13, the “United” bid of the United States, Canada and Mexico was picked ahead of Morocco to host the 2026 World Cup. Morocco notched 65 votes, compared to 134 by the United bid. Crucially, 11 African countries voted against Morocco’s bid despite its projection of a united front for another “Africa” World Cup. That lack of African support proved costly as, to have any chance of winning the 104 votes required for a simple majority, Morocco needed the 54 votes held by Africa’s federations.
Some of the opposition to Morocco’s bid within the continent stemmed from a four-decade old territory dispute: Morocco’s annexation of Western Sahara also known as Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic (SADR), a former Spanish colony in 1975.
Politics over Western Sahara territory have lingered for years. In January 2017, Morocco rejoined the African Union after a 33-year absence since the union admitted Western Sahara as a member state in 1984. But Morocco’s re-admission was voted against by 15 of the AU’s 54 member states. Morocco also asked the AU to re-consider its stance on recognizing SADR when it requested to rejoin.
Morocco’s Africa foreign policy has markedly changed in recent years under King Mohammed VI. Beyond rejoining the AU, Morocco is also looking to join the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and has launched a charm offensive across the continent, complete with state visits by the King, seeking and signing bilateral deals with several sub-Saharan countries.
But the existing strained relationships were not helped by Morocco’s failure to host the African Cup of Nations in January 2015 following an Ebola outbreak in some African countries. Morocco initially requested for a postponement of the tournament, typically hosted between January and February at the time, to June over fears of a spread of the outbreak. But CAF, Africa’s soccer governing body, rejected Morocco’s request and Equatorial Guinea stepped in as emergency hosts. CAF suspended Morocco from two editions of the competition and fined the country $1 million but a Court of Arbitration ruling reduced the fine to $50,000 and scrapped the ban. Two of the countries with the worst cases of Ebola in 2014, Liberia and Sierra Leone, both voted against Morocco this time round.
|Countries that voted against Morocco 2026|