At least two federation presidents had some explaining to do after Wednesday’s FIFA vote that awarded the 2026 World Cup to the United bid of Mexico, Canada and the United States over a rival proposal from Morocco.
Antonio Souare, president of the Guinean soccer association and an ambassador for the Moroccan bid, cast his vote electronically for the North American trio while Brazil’s soccer head, Antonio Carlos Nunes, went the other way, publicly backing the North American trio, then voting for the North Africans.
“I did not vote of the United bid,” Souare told a reporter. “There must be a mistake, perhaps a technical one.”
He also said he was “confused” by the equipment used to cast votes, although his delegation had voted without issue on a number of earlier measures using the machine.
Nunes said later he thought the ballots were secret despite the fact FIFA repeatedly told delegates at Wednesday’s congress that the votes would be made public, as they were minutes after being cast.
The United bid won in a landslide, 134-65.
Africa had promised to vote as a bloc for Morocco but 11 countries broke with their neighbors and backed the United bid. Russia also voted for the U.S. while North Korea sided with Morocco. Iran voted for neither.
Flipping over World Cup
Robbie Williams took flak from his country and the host country for agreeing to perform in Thursday’s World Cup opening ceremony, but the British pop singer might have gotten the last word on the matter without saying a thing.
At one point during the brief, understated opening ceremony, Williams exited the field, turned toward a TV camera beaming the event worldwide and held his middle finger out in an obscene gesture.
Williams has been criticized at home for agreeing to perform in Russia, while in Russia some took exemption to his song “Party Like a Russian” because they felt the lyrics mocked the country’s oligarchs.
Now Williams could be caged for flipping the bird since Russia’s administrative code says anyone making those kind of gestures could be subject to arrest if it can be proved they meant it as an insult.
Mexico opens its World Cup against defending champion Germany on Sunday and it will enter the game in its deepest offensive funk in four years, one in which El Tri score just one goal in its last four games.
But Carlos Vela, who scored a team-leading seven goals for the Los Angeles Football Club before heading to Russia, stills likes his team’s chances. Mexico’s roster includes forward Javier “Chicharito” Hernandez, the country’s all-time scoring leader; Hirving Lozano, who led Dutch Eredivisie champion PSV with 17 goals, and Porto’s Jesus Corona.
“The level is high,” Vela said. “There are young players who are really strong. They’re playing great. They’re helping raise the level of the national team to where we want it to be.”
But it’s not there yet, he conceded.