THE SOUTH African Football Association (SAFA) has backtracked on earlier comments from its president, Danny Jordaan, that it will support Morocco’s 2026 World Cup bid.
Seemingly under pressure from the government, SAFA released a statement indicating that any decision on which to support must be taken by its National Executive Committee.
The North Africans are up against a joint bid from the United States, Mexico and Canada to host the showpiece event in eight years’ time, and Jordaan had previously stated his support for the Moroccan cause.
The two-continent race hit the spotlight recently when U.S. President Donald Trump implored African football associations to vote for the North American bid when asked to choose on June 13 in Moscow.
South Africa and Morocco have been at loggerheads for more than a decade over the former’s acceptance of the Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic (Western Sahara) as an independent nation, though a process of reconciliation has begun in recent months.
Further complicating matters is that Morocco famously lost the right to host the 2010 World Cup to South Africa, with allegations of vote-rigging being rife after the FIFA corruption scandal broke in 2015.
Last month, SAFA welcomed a pro-Morocco delegation that included former Senegal striker El-Hadji Diouf and ex-Cameroun international goalkeeper Joseph-Antoine Bell to SAFA House.
But South African Minister of Sport and Recreation, Tokozile Xasa, is adamant they will not back their fellow Africans.
“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,” she said.
“You cannot, just because you have experience in FIFA matters, go into the country [Morocco] that goes against the mandate of your country.”
SAFA, which is under no obligation to vote for the North American bid should it decide against backing Morocco, said: “We have received the presentation from the USA bid during the Cosafa Congress in Johannesburg, which was presented by the U.S. bid delegation led by their [former] president Sunil Gulati.
SAFA also received a presentation on the Morocco bid by the bid ambassadors Joseph-Antoine Bell of Cameroun and former Senegal international El Hadji Diouf.
“It was made clear to both delegations that these presentations would be taken to SAFA NEC who will give the mandate to the delegates going to the FIFA Congress in Moscow in June on which bid to support.
“SAFA wants to reiterate that no decision has been taken at this stage on the matter on who to support.”