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Territories fail to declare conflict of interest in world cup vote

FIFA's four United States-governed island territories have not declared their conflict of interest in the vote for the 2026 World Cup, in an apparent breach of the bidding rules.

A joint Canada, Mexico and United States bid is up against Morocco in an increasingly tense contest to stage the tournament - but none of the bidding nations is allowed to vote when FIFA's 211 member associations meet to pick a winner in Moscow on June 13.

However, as reported by Press Association Sport on Wednesday, it is understood that the Moroccan bid asked FIFA to also block American Samoa, Guam, Puerto Rico and US Virgin Islands from voting nearly three weeks ago.

The Moroccans have not yet received an answer from FIFA but in a statement released to Press Association Sport, a FIFA spokesperson said all member associations are entitled to "participate and vote" at the congress, providing they do not have a conflict of interest, as laid out in the bidding regulations issued in October.

According to article 4.2 of those rules, a delegate who has a conflict of interest "shall decline to participate in the voting process" for the 2026 World Cup host or hosts.
It adds that the delegate "shall notify the FIFA general secretariat immediately" of its intention to declare a conflict of interest.

The FIFA spokesperson, however, said: "At the time of writing, no member association has notified FIFA about its intention not to perform their duties in connection with the bidding procedure."

This would seem to put the United bid and the four American-controlled territories on a collision course with Morocco, who are understood to believe they have firm legal grounds to force the quartet out of the vote.

This situation has not risen before because this is the first time a World Cup host has been chosen by the congress, or all of FIFA's member associations, as opposed to previous occasions when the decision was made by FIFA's executive committee, now known as the FIFA Council.

FIFA did not respond to a question regarding Morocco's complaint about the three council members with United bid links - American Samoa's Sandra Fruean, Canada's Victor Montagliani and Sunil Gulati of the US - not leaving the room when 2026 World Cup issues are discussed.

There was also no comment on another of Morocco's concerns: the threat of political interference in the process.

This is based on the tweet US president Donald Trump sent last month which looked like a veiled threat to US allies who fail to back the United bid and this week's controversy in South Africa where the government wants to back the North Americans but the football federation favours Morocco.

Speaking to reporters in Tangiers on Wednesday, Moroccan bid chief executive Hicham El Amrani said: "My focus is on defending the values of the Moroccan bid, its values, its concept.”

"But in relation to political interference I think the rules are pretty clear, so it's really not up to the bidders to implement them. FIFA has to implement them. The bidders have to respect them."

Photo: Morocco viewed from Gibraltar, by David Parody

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