By Victor Okoye/ Olawale Alabi
Many, who had hoped that another African country would get the nod to host the senior FIFA World Cup, were disappointed on Wednesday when Morocco failed to win the right in Russia.
The 2026 World Cup will be held in the United States, Mexico and Canada after FIFA’s Congress voted on Wednesday to back the joint bid by the three countries.
All 211 Member Associations of FIFA voted at its 68th Congress in the Russian capital to choose between the African candidate, Morocco and the joint bid of the USA, Canada and Mexico.
The North American bid beat the rival Morocco proposal, winning 134 votes to 65 for Morocco.
A cross section of football enthusiasts who spoke to NAN expressed disappointment at the outcome of the result, while others were indifferent, saying the best bid won.
Tunde Popoola, the Secretary General of the Nigeria Olympic Committee (NOC) said it was indeed a sad development for the continent, adding that his desire was to see another African country hosting the FIFA World Cup.
“I am absolutely gutted that Morocco missed out of this wonderful opportunity of hosting the world.
“I think it’s time for FIFA to rotate the hosting of the World Cup from continent to continent.
“If it is not done Africa will never host the World Cup again,” he said.
However, Musa Talle, Chairman, FCT Football Association, said the Moroccan bid was already dead even before the votes were cast as it was no match to the American-led bid.
“Morocco’s bid was believed to be strong with support from a majority of African countries and the European confederation, but it could not match the American-led bid for facilities.
“Even with their Championship of African Nations (CHAN) stadiums and the promise of more to be built over the next eight years, Morocco had nothing like the resources or experience of each one of its three opponents.
“Never mind the three combined.
“Therefore, the race to host the 2026 World Cup was not David against Goliath, but David against three Goliaths,” he said.
Talle noted that the recently organised CHAN showed how good Morocco could be as a host and organiser, adding, however, that the World Cup was a different ball game.
“CHAN which is Africa’s secondary international tournament is incomparable to the World Cup.
“Of course, CHAN allowed Morocco to show off some of their new infrastructure, including the impressive new stadium in Agardir.
“Plenty more will have to be built if they ever hope to stand a chance to host the World Cup,” he said.
Godwin Bamigboye, the Chairman, FCT Football Coaches Association, corroborated Talle’s view, saying even though he wanted Morocco to win, the combined bid of U.S., Mexico and Canada was superior.
“The American-led bid completely outstripped Morocco’s bid when it comes to available usable stadiums. The NFL alone has 31, and that does not even cover Canada or Mexico.
“Nor could Morocco compete in terms of training bases, given the wealth of professional and university sports teams across North America.
“Nothing in the Morocco bid book came close,” he said.
Emmanuel Amakiri, the Proprietor of Amakson Football Academy, on his part queried FIFA for allowing the World Cup to be hosted by multiple nations.
“To have three big countries together… they have proven they can host it alone, so why combine the three?”
“I’m advocating that henceforth only one nation be allowed to present a single bid for the World Cup because it is not fair to have multiple nations competing against one,” he said.
The 2022 FIFA World Cup finals will take place in Qatar, while the 2026 finals will be the first to have 48 teams in attendance.
Meanwhile, it has been revealed that eleven Confederation of African Football, CAF, member associations were among the countries which did not support Morocco’s bid to host the 2026 FIFA World Cup during the voting process on Wednesday in Moscow.
Their votes, however, would not have prevented Morocco from losing the vote for the fifth time in its bid to host the FIFA World Cup as it lost 65-134 votes in favour of the United Bid.
The United Bid, a three-country effort by the U.S., Mexico and Canada, emerged the overwhelming winner at the event which took place at the Moscow Expocentre.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that CAF has 56 members but 52 were part of the 68th FIFA Congress which took the decision.
Benin Republic, Botswana, Cape Verde Islands, Guinea, Lesotho, Liberia, Mozambique, Namibia, Sierra Leone, South Africa and Zimbabwe were the CAF member-countries which did not vote for Morocco.
The rest 41, including Nigeria, voted for Morocco.
With the result, South Africa remains the only African country to have succeeded so far at the vote, with 210 votes at stake this time around.
Iran voted that none of the bids was worthwhile, while Cuba, Slovenia and Spain abstained.
The four countries involved in the two bids — Morocco, the U.S., Canada and Mexico — were not part of the voting, alongside the U.S. Virgin Islands, Guam and Puerto Rico.