Failed World Cup Bid Shows the Limits of Morocco’s African Charm Offensive

Failed World Cup Bid Shows the Limits of Morocco’s African Charm Offensive
Morocco’s Romain Saiss reacts after his teammate Aziz Bouhaddouz scored an own goal during the team’s opening loss to Iran at the 2018 World Cup, St. Petersburg, Russia, June 15, 2018 (AP photo by Andrew Medichini).

Editor’s Note: Every Friday, WPR Senior Editor Robbie Corey-Boulet curates the top news and analysis from and about the African continent.

This week’s vote to determine who would host the World Cup in 2026 was a major letdown for Morocco, made worse by a crushing loss to Iran in its opening match of the tournament Friday. The country had hoped to become just the second in Africa to secure hosting rights, after South Africa in 2010, but instead it lost decisively to the joint bid from the United States, Canada and Mexico. The final vote tally by the members of FIFA was 134-65.

Afterward, several African soccer stars who had lobbied for Morocco’s bid said the fact that 11 African countries voted against it was especially disheartening. “We are very disappointed for two reasons,” said Joseph-Antoine Bell of Cameroon. “First, we thought Morocco on a sporting basis had a better candidature even against a much larger set of countries. And secondly because the African countries that voted against us are not fighting for our emancipation.”

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