South-Africa

SAFA faces dilemma regarding 2026 Soccer World Cup vote

2018-05-11 13:54
Danny Jordaan (Gallo Images)

Cape Town - With friends - or should that be a president? - like Donald Trump, the United States' bid to head a three-nation enterprise to host the epochal 48-nation Soccer World Cup in 2026 hardly needs enemies.

The garrulous Trump has in typical fashion not only inserted a political element into the 2026 World Cup race that conflicts with FIFA's regulations, but he trumpeted veiled threats of reprisals to those nations who do not vote in favour of the joint USA-Mexico-Canada enterprise.

Now, it seems, not to be outdone in the political interference myopia, government officials in South Africa have come out with the assertion that South Africa should not support rival 2026 bidders Morocco because of political differences with the North African nation that are apparently unrelated to soccer.

Yet if one's memory goes back a mere couple of weeks, was it not SAFA president Danny Jordaan who made his views quite clear by throwing his lot wholeheartedly behind the Morocco bid?

SAFA, however, has since added to the murky waters of confusion by releasing a statement to the effect that no decision had yet been taken regarding whether to support Morocco or the three-nation American bid regarding the hosting of the 2026 World Cup.

And it makes sense that SAFA's NEC will shortly take a calculated decision on who to support when FIFA decides on the 2026 hosting during next month's World Cup extravaganza in Russia.

The problem here is that Jordaan, who is generally considered to have omnipotent control over the activities of SAFA, had already declared that South Africa would support Morocco as a fellow-African nation - adding as a reason how well South Africa had staged the World Cup in 2010.

However with its strong financial clout and a maze of top-class facilities already available, the combined bid from the United States, Canada and Mexico was initially considered an odds-on favourite to receive FIFA's okay for 2026.

Then, with a characteristic lack of insight and the discretion of a bull in a China shop, Trump has threatened the FIFA nations who will decide on the 2026 World Cup hosting that there could be repercussions if they did not support the Americans.

This is in direct conflict with the FIFA ruling that political considerations should play no part in the decisions of world soccer's controlling body - and it left American soccer officials cringing over what could be retribution for Trump's out-of-place trumpeting.

But then again the South African government appears equally in contradiction of FIFA regulations.

Meanwhile even if FIFA does not take any action, member nations might not take kindly to the not-so-veiled threat from the United States president when they cast their votes.

As for South Africa, SAFA's NEC will face a dilemma regarding South Africa's vote - and whether political interference will be a factor in one way or another in deciding where the World Cup Finals end up in 2026.

Read more on:    safa  |  fifa  |  sy lerman  |  soccer
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