Yesterday Morocco lost its 2026 FIFA World Cup bid to a joint bid from North American countries USA, Mexico and Canada. The voting, which occurred at the Federation of International Football Association (FIFA) headquarters in Zurich, Switzerland, was conducted by the various heads of the over 200 member countries of FIFA.
A tweet posted on Morocco’s football account congratulated the North American winners of the joint bid, and implied that the country would submit another bid for the next World Cup after 2026.
If Morocco had won the bid, it would have become the second African country to host football’s biggest sporting event after South Africa hosted in 2010 for the first time in Africa.
Nigerian football legend Daniel Amokachi told sports website Goal.com
that Morocco’s failure to secure a united African vote was the reason why its bid to host the 2026 World Cup failed.
The 11 African countries that voted for the United (USA, Mexico and Canada) 2026 FIFA World Cup bid, instead of Morocco, are Botswana, Cape Verde, Lesotho, Benin, Guinea, Liberia, Mozambique, Namibia, Sierra Leone, South Africa and Zimbabwe. One of South Africa’s opposition parties, Economic Freedom Fighters released a statement in support of Morocco losing the bid to host the 2026 FIFA World cup.
Not that Morocco really considers itself as an African country, but to put it more mildly, it does not embrace pan-Africanism. Morocco, like other countries in the Mahgreb, have often been accused of isolating themselves from African issues because of shared cultural and religious values with Arab countries. Morocco’s history with pan-Africanism has been sour from the beginning, at least before it decided to re-join the African Union last year.
Morocco left the African Union (then Organization of African Unity whose major mandate was to decolonize Africa) in 1984 after the body decided to recognize the independence of Western Sahara, also known as Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic (SADR), and admitted it as a member state. Moroccan forces were occupying Western Sahara at that time, and annexed part of it as a colony.
Morocco returned to the AU six months ago with the Western Sahara problem still prominent, and amidst protests from countries like South Africa and Zimbabwe. Both countries felt slighted by the daylight colonization orchestrated by Morocco in Western Sahara region, a throwback to their struggle with British colonialism, a struggle many think Morocco did not support. South Africa is an ardent ally of the SADR.
Morocco once applied to join the European Union after it left the OAU many years ago. Though its application was rejected by the European Union, It did not go down well with many African countries.
Morocco has also made a few enemies in African football; In 2004, Morocco refused to vote for South Africa to host the 2010 FIFA World Cup, leading to the country withdrawing its ambassador from South Africa. Morocco was also against South Africa’s 2023 Rugby World Cup bid. It also refused to host the 2015 African Cup of Nations (AFCON) when Africa needed its help due to the Ebola crisis. It then hosted the Club World Cup soon after that, implying that it seemingly does not consider itself African.
Perhaps, its re-admission into the AU last year means there has been a change of mind in the Northern African country. However, all this seems a little too late as many African countries are still not convinced they want to embrace pan-Africanism, with its continued occupation of Western Sahara.