It has emerged that Morocco are concerned about a possible dirty tricks campaign which they consider has been waged by FIFA against them since the African country made its late bid to stage the 2026 World Cup.
The latest concern is that FIFA have yet to answer official letters questioning, on strong legal grounds, why American territories Guam, Puerto Rico, American Samoa and the US Virgin Islands have not been ruled out from voting at the FIFA Congress on June 13.
Morocco have also had to combat FIFA making changes to their staging requirements just 48 hours before the bid book deadline in March.
This included changing the maximum time allowed from team hotel to training ground and the minimum population for a host city.
They also changed the maximum time allowed to travel from host city centre to airport to 90 minutes when Morocco had included a journey of 91 minutes.
It was also proposed at FIFA council level – but rejected – that the number of suitable existing stadiums should be increased to six which would have knocked out their bid at a stroke.
The Moroccan bid are also not happy that two senior figures on the united bid, American Sunil Gulati and Canada’s Víctor Montagliani, have allegedly stayed in the FIFA council room when World Cup bid business was being discussed.
Plus it is felt the United delegates showed a lack of respect in Brussels, not giving the Moroccans the courtesy of listening to their presentation when they had been present for the United address to media.
And that even FIFA’s administrative staff were frosty to the Moroccans at a World Cup workshop in Zurich – although relationships have since improved.
In addition there has been political interference in a tweet from American President Donald Trump – a veiled threat to US allies if they support the Africans.
Morocco bid chief Hicham El Amrani said: ‘Fifa rules are very clear on political interference.’
This was not enough opposition to prevent O’Brien from taking his seat, but it was a warning shot from a group who normally toe the party line.
There is an on-going investigation into the ECB paying O’Brien’s Glamorgan £2.5million to stop staging Test cricket in Cardiff.
Meanwhile the best news from the meeting is that Giles Clarke is no longer president of the ECB so no longer on the board. Good riddance.
Three county cricket chairmen objected to appointment of Barry O’Brien (left) on ECB board
But Thuram, for some reason, was very keen to stress that he was not an ambassador for the bid – merely a supporter – and even took off his official Morocco pin badge to prove the point.
Morocco do have their great Olympic 1500m and 5,000m champion Hicham El Guerrouj and Brazilian footballer Roberto Carlos as representatives.
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