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Morocco bid : Geopolitical factors influence the FIFA vote in Russia

Geopolitical issues have influenced the vote that took place Wednesday during the FIFA congress. Some of Morocco’s classical allies backed the North American bid changing the game.

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President of the Royal Moroccan Football Federation at the FIFA congress in Moscow, Russia on the 13th of June, 2018./ Ph. Mladen Antonov-AFP

The vote has spoken and the North American bid presented by the United States, Canada and Mexico has won the right to host the 2026 World Cup, Wednesday in Russia. 134 FIFA federations backed the US-led candidacy allowing it to control 67% of the vote.

The three biding nations succeeded in beating the Moroccan one which received 65 votes, representing only 33% of the vote.

While North Americans are rejoicing over their victory at the FIFA congress in Russia, it is time to take a look at the 65 nations that backed Morocco to host the international tournament and the surprises that came with it.

The Saudi Arabia bloc

Surprisingly, many Arab countries known for being close to Morocco have decided to vote for the North American bid. Here we mention Gulf countries namely Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates. In the region, only Qatar and Oman supported Morocco in the FIFA vote.

The trend extended to other Arab countries which were expected to stand by the Kingdom, including Jordan and Iraq.

FIFA voting results./Ph. FIFAFIFA voting results./Ph. FIFA

In the Middle East, Yemen, Palestine and Syria voted for Morocco while Lebanon went for the North American bid. An expected decision especially after Rabat accused the Lebanese political party Hezbollah of providing support for the Polisario Front.

On the other hand, Iran was the only country to choose «None of the Bids» at the FIFA congress today in Moscow.

The South Africa bloc

Although head of the African football confederation Ahmad Ahmad called African countries to stand with Morocco in the vote, some of them have opted for the US-led bid.

South Africa which had a confusing stance regarding the vote, finally voted for the North American candidacy, alongside federations from Liberia, Guinea, Namibia, Liberia, Lesotho, Mozambique, Benin, Botswana, Cape Verde, Sierra Leone, and Zimbabwe. Some of the 11 countries are known for having poor diplomatic relations with the Kingdom.

In North Africa, Algeria and as it announced before backed Morocco followed by Tunisia, Egypt, Libya, and Mauritania.

Nigeria's unexpected decision

Despite the threats of US President Donald Trump, the majority of African federations went for Morocco when voting in Russia.

FIFA voting results./Ph. FIFAFIFA voting results./Ph. FIFA

Although Trump stated in front of Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari during his last visit to the USA that he hopes «all African countries and countries throughout the world, that [we] also will be supporting you and that they will likewise support us in our bid, along with Canada and Mexico, for the 2026 World Cup», the country voted for Morocco.

European countries, including France, Italy, the Netherlands, Belgium, Serbia, Estonia, Belarus, Slovakia, Albania and Luxembourg voted for the Kingdom as expected.

What was really unusual is that North Korea has voted for the Moroccan bid, sending a message to Trump only two days after he met Kim Jong-un at the Singapore summit.

Geopolitical factors were indeed taken into consideration during the epic vote as Spain, Cuba and Slovenia abstained from voting.

In Latin America Morocco was backed by Brazil, and Peru. Several other Asian nations supported the Kingdom such as China, and Chinese Taipei.

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