ZIMBABWE yesterday stuck to its promise and delivered a vote to the United Bid fronted by the United States in its successful battle to win the rights to host the 2026 FIFA World Cup finals. The United Bid had the United States, Mexico and Canada and comprehensively beat the challenge of Morocco in the battle for the 2026 FIFA World Cup finals.
Although a good number of African countries voted for the Moroccans, the Zimbabwe delegation in Switzerland cast their vote for the United Bid which also received the support from South Africa, Botswana, Mozambique, Namibia and Lesotho.
Malawi and Zambia voted for the Moroccan bid but the North Africans were outclassed as they received just 65 votes compared to the 134 votes that went to the United Bid.
ZIFA president Philip Chiyangwa had promised that, after consultations with the Government, they were going to vote for the Americans and they did just that with the leaders of the United Bid quickly sending a congratulatory message to the Harare businessman shortly after the vote was sealed.
Some ZIFA critics, notably Harare City official and social media blogger, Hope Chizuzu, had claimed the Association representatives would be barred from voting because their mandate had expired but the ZIFA leaders took their place among the voters.
They also held meetings with the FIFA leadership in Zurich.
It is forecast that the United Bid will bring revenues in excess of $14.3 billion, almost twice the figure presented by Morocco, and there could be rich pickings for associations who could get as much as $50 million each from the tournament in 2026.
The leaders of Mexico and Canada gleefully cheered winning the right to host the 2026 World Cup jointly with the United States yesterday, emphasising unity at a time when US President Donald Trump has frayed relations with the two neighbours during his 18 months in office.
Trump, who as part of a tougher US immigration policy has called for a wall to be built on the country’s southern border and paid for by Mexico, just days ago personally insulted Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau over a trade dispute.
US Soccer Federation President Carlos Cordeiro suggested to reporters on a conference call that bringing the three countries together was more of a challenge than any Trump effect.
Trump, Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto and Trudeau all took to Twitter to post their reactions to the news.
The North Americans pledged their tournament would generate an $11 billion profit for FIFA — greater than any previous World Cup finals — a financial shot in the arm for world soccer’s governing body, which has been rocked by a corruption and bribery scandal ensnaring top officials.
Morocco, which has now failed in five bids to host the FIFA World Cup, said their tournament would make $5 billion. The North African country would have needed to invest billions of dollars to build new stadiums while the United States, Mexico and Canada will mostly use existing venues.
Although it will be the first World Cup to be hosted by three countries, most matches will be played in the United States. As part of the joint bid, Trump pledged that those travelling to the United States for the tournament would not be subject to stringent visa restrictions. Under FIFA’s new system for choosing the host, all eligible national football federations that attend the Congress were given a vote.
FIFA’s new electronic voting system meant that the decision was swift and speedy.
Within seconds the result was conveyed and, given that present-day FIFA is keen to show how transparent it is, the decisions of each member nation was made public minutes later.
Here are some of the highlights:
Iran: The only country that took the “none of the bids” option, presumably on the basis that it does not have diplomatic ties with either the US or Morocco and wouldn’t been keen to see either host.
North Korea: Rather disappointingly for those seeking a mischievous storyline in the wake of Trump and Kim Jong-Un’s meeting, voted for Morocco. Did Trump forget to ask for that in negotiations at the Singapore summit?
Cuba: Abstained from voting altogether.
Iraq, Afghanistan: Backed the United Bid.
Saudi Arabia, UAE, Kuwait,
Bahrain: The United States’ major Persian Gulf allies voted for the United bid.
Qatar: The 2022 World Cup host (beating out the United States in 2010) and current diplomatic adversary of its Gulf neighbours, voted for Morocco.
Russia: Backed the United Bid. Who knows if Vladimir Putin gave the order, but few countries have closer ties between government and soccer federation than Russia.
France: One of a handful of European countries to pick Morocco, though that likely had more to do with close historic ties than Emmanuel Macron’s frustration with Trump.
enezuela: For all the challenges they have with the Americans, they backed the US bid — Sports Reporter/USA Today.