International relations issues come to the fore
By Tasie Theodore
Despite putting up a spirited bid to be chosen as hosts for the 2026 FIFA World Cup, the North African nation of Morocco has lost the bid.
Going by the details of how countries voted for the host of the 2026 football World Cup, it has now emerged that serious international relations issues indeed came to the fore.
Morocco failed to win on Wednesday at the bid draws held at the Expocentre in Moscow, losing out 65-134 to the joint bid of the North American trio of the United States of America, Canada, and Mexico.
In a bid process that lasted just 15 seconds, different nations expressed their desires openly.
Nigeria, through the Nigeria Football Federation president, Amaju Pinnick, voted for Morocco.
In the run up to voting, President Donald Trump had insinuated that America may withhold aid to countries they currently support, should the US-led coalition fail to win in the process.
Though he was instantly rebuked by FIFA, there however remained fears that some countries may yet be forced by that veiled threat to vote for the United States-led bid.
Sources however reveal that one factor that helped swing the Nigerian vote towards Morocco is the recent improvement in relations between both nations, and which was to culminate in a first presidential visit by a Nigerian leader to the Maghrebian state. Also being raised are the facts of Morocco’s return to the African Union. And then there are also issues of Islamic and Afro-Arab solidarity which has seen Nigeria even more recently tilting more considerably to power blocs like the D-8 whose membership is almost exclusively composed of Islamic Countries.
Other than Nigeria, the majority of African nations also voted for Morocco. Significant exemptions were Benin Republic, Botswana, Cape Verde, Guinea, Liberia, Namibia, Sierra Leone, South Africa and Zimbabwe. The West African nation of Ghana was spared the trouble of choosing loyalties given the current state of crisis in the Ghana Football Association which has led to the ouster of the federation’s president.
On the broader global plane also, the divisions, clashes of allegiances and surprises continued with the trio of China, France, and Italy notably voting for Morocco while Russia, Germany, and Japan voted for the joint North American bid.
But for those who had to vote objectively, the questions came to chiefly two: give Africa and the Middle East area what could be its second World Cup and help further grow the game in the regions; or vote for the mouth-watering mega-profits being promised by the North American bid. Call it a choice between developmental inclusiveness and profiteering and you would not be wrong.
Now you too can vote!