Rabat – Fouzi Lekjaa, President of the Moroccan Royal Football Federation, has broken his silence to express his opinion regarding the remarks made by President of FIFA Gianni Infantino, who urged the Confederation of African Football (CAF) earlier this month to remain neutral in the selection process for the 2026 World Cup host.
In an interview with Moroccan newspaper Al Massae, Lekjaa said “just two days before the General Assembly of the CAF, FIFA has issued a circular letter addressed to the 211 members’ federations, asking them to remain neutral” in the selection process of the 2026 World Cup host.
FIFA’s remarks, however, did not stop CAF from expressing its full support for Morocco’s bid and “did not prevent it from making its position clear during its General Assembly.”
CAF’s 40th Ordinary General Assembly took place on February 2 in Casablanca, with FIFA president Infantino and CAF’s President, Ahmad Ahmad, in attendance.
Speaking at the event, Ahmad said, “I can reassure you that I will not be neutral. I say it loud and clear.” His statements come in response to the Infantino’s “neutrality.”
In December 2017, Infantino expressed his support for the North American bid, saying that, “Joint biddings are certainly positive.” FIFA’s president also said at a conference in Dubai, “Let me say one more thing, to have Canada, U.S., and Mexico coming together for a joint project, already this is a positive message,” reported American news outlet The New York Times.
Addressing the attendees of the event, Infantino said, “I ask you to do everything possible to make the process as healthy as possible. It is about our credibility.”
When asked if Infantino has been backing the three-nation North American bid, Lekjaa said, “the important thing for Morocco is that the federations, which are set to vote for their favorable bid, will do it through a transparent vote.”
FIFA’s decision will be announced on June 13, a day before the launch of the 2018 World Cup, which will take place in Russia next summer.
Around 221 national soccer federations from around the world will meet in Moscow in June to decide between Morocco and the USA/Canada/Mexico joint bid for the host of the 23rd FIFA World Cup. The candidates’ files must meet FIFA’s technical terms, including infrastructure and commercial criteria.