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Sports Minister says SA government won't support Morocco's bid to host 2026 World Cup

Minister of Sport and Recreation Tokozile Xasa.
Minister of Sport and Recreation Tokozile Xasa.
Image: Mahlatse Mphahlele

The South African government will not support Morocco's bid to host the 2026 Fifa Soccer World Cup.

The two countries have had strained relations since Morocco withdrew its ambassador from Pretoria in 2004 when South Africa recognised the independence of the Saharawi Arab Democratic Republic‚ also known as the Western Sahara.

“We are very clear that we can’t support Morocco‚” Minister of Sport and Recreation Xasa said unequivocally.

Xasa was reacting to recent reports that quoted South African Football Association (Safa) Danny Jordaan as saying he would back the Moroccan bid.

“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‚" Xasa said.

"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.

“South Africa has hosted many big events in the past‚ we are recognized throughout the world‚ our teams are doing very well.

"But there is so much competition to host these kinds of games even in Africa.

"That’s why you can hear Danny Jordaan saying 'I am going to assist Morocco in their bid to host the World Cup'.”

Last month‚ a Moroccan delegation comprising of celebrated former Senegal and Liverpool striker El Hadji Diouf and former Cameroonian goalkeeper Joseph-Antoine Bell visited Safa House to lobby for support.

Safa has since backtracked on Jordaan’s comments and they have indicated that a decision on which bid to support between Morocco and the USA would be taken by their National Executive Committee.

“We have received the presentation from the USA bid during the Cosafa Congress in Johannesburg which was presented by the US bid delegation led by their president Sunil Gulati.

"Safa also received a presentation on the Morocco bid by the bid ambassadors Joseph-Antoine Bell of Cameroon 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‚” read the Safa statement.

“Safa wants to reiterate that no decision has been taken at this stage on the matter on who to support.

"We hope that this clarifies Safa’ position going forward‚ no press conferences were held after both presentations‚ neither Safa nor the president of the association have spoken directly on the matter on who to support and the matter remains like that.”

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