South African Minister of Sports and Recreation Tokozile Xasa has warned the country’s Football Association (Safa) to switch their backing from Morocco’s bid for the 2026 World Cup to the United States’ joint submission.
Last month, Safa President Danny Jordaan said that it would be great for Africa to host a second World Cup, as he welcomed a pro-Morocco delegation that included former Senegal striker El-Hadji Diouf and ex-Cameroon goalkeeper Joseph-Antoine Bell to the body's headquarters.
On 27 April, United States President Donald Trump warned countries against opposing his nation’s joint bid with Canada and Mexico.
The U.S. has put together a STRONG bid w/ Canada & Mexico for the 2026 World Cup. It would be a shame if countries that we always support were to lobby against the U.S. bid. Why should we be supporting these countries when they don’t support us (including at the United Nations)?— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) 26 April 2018
Strained relations with Morocco
South Africa and Morocco have had a strained relationship since the North African kingdom withdrew its ambassador from Pretoria in 2004 when the Rainbow Nation recognised the independence of the Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic.
"We are very clear that we can’t support Morocco‚" Xasa said.
"Our parliament was very straightforward in this regard‚ it is the mandate of the country and it is an obligation for sporting bodies to understand what the country’s agenda is.
"You cannot just because you have experience in Fifa matters and you can go into the country that goes against the mandate of your country."
Despite warnings by the sports minister, Safa is under no obligation to vote for the North American bid.
Morocco, which has never hosted a World Cup despite bidding on four previous occasions, came second in the race to hold the 2010 edition of the tournament, which was won by South Africa.
The host of the 2026 World Cup is due to be chosen at the Fifa Congress in Moscow on 13 June.