SAFA officials have decided on bid they will vote for in 2026 World Cup race

04 June 2018 - 17:27 By Mark Gleeson
SA Football Association (Safa) President Danny Jordaan.
SA Football Association (Safa) President Danny Jordaan.
Image: Supplied

South African Football Association (SAFA) officials have decided on the bid they will vote for in next week’s 2026 World Cup race but are keeping the decision from the public for the time being.

Insiders say a unanimous decision was reached to back the joint North American bid of Canada‚ Mexico and the United States over that of fellow Africans Morocco in the race to host the 2026 World Cup.

But the potential fallout from such a decision means SAFA are staying tight-lipped.

The winning bid to host the World Cup in eight years’ time will be decided by the votes of the 211 members of FIFA‚ world football’s governing body‚ who gather for their congress in Moscow next week.

The vote is on June 13.

The new-look SAFA Council‚ as they now call their executive committee‚ met in Polokwane on Sunday to make the decision‚ as well as vote on new vice presidents.

They also heard a presentation from the delegation of the “United 2026” bid‚ which included the presidents of both the Canadian and Mexican football associations plus former FIFA competitions director Jim Brown.

The North American delegation departed on Monday for more meetings in Harare with smiles on their faces‚ convinced they had made inroads not only in garnering the South African vote but also persuading other countries in the region to also support them.

It means Morocco‚ who were banking on a united African bid behind them‚ are now on perilous ground and might not take the North Americans as close in the vote as many thought they initially would.

The Moroccans have been relying on Confederation of African Football president Ahmad‚ who they have backed through his first year in office with generous grants for various CAF events‚ to ensure all 54 African members would vote for them.

But he looks to have failed.

This will put SAFA president Danny Jordaan at odds with Ahmad and threaten his future on the CAF executive committee.

But Jordaan‚ who is a member of the African National Congress and former Member of Parliament‚ can also ill afford to go against the South African government‚ who do not want SAFA to vote for Morocco.

Sports Minister Tokozile Xasa was in Polokwane on Sunday and also met with SAFA officials.

She has twice come out publicly to insist to SAFA that it is not government policy to support Morocco‚ which whom South Africa has strained relations over the Western Sahara issue.

Morocco annexed Western Sahara‚ a former Spanish colony‚ in 1976 but South Africa and many other African countries‚ recognise the Polisario liberation movement as its legitimate representatives.

SAFA need to stay on the right side of government if it is to chase its newly stated ambitions of hosting a future Women’s World Cup and Club World Cup.

FIFA will not give the country the right to host their tournament’s without government-backed guarantees.

SAFA spokesman Dominic Chimhavi suggested to TimesLIVE on Monday that SAFA might yet make its voting intentions’ public but only after Jordaan has had a chance to inform both the government and CAF.

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