KEIR RADNEDGE REPORTING —- The United 2026 bid celebrated the conclusion of the FIFA evaluation visit with icing on the cake of a pledge of 10 votes from South America – in addition to last month’s promise of six from central America.

The world football federation’s task force had ended up in New York/New Jersey after zig-zagging the three members of the co-hosting bid from Mexico City to Atlanta in the United States to Toronto in Canada and back down and across to New York.

CONMEBOL . . . boasts 10 member associations

This coming week the five-man team, headed by FIFA deputy secretary-generals Marco Villiger and Zvonimir Boban, will head to Morocco to study the rival proposal built around Marrakech, Agadir, Tanger and Casablanca.

In recent weeks a number of African, central American, Asian and European national federations have declared support for Morocco in defiance of FIFA confidentiality regulations.

Congress pledge

Now, on the other side, public support from a significant number of FAs has been pledged to United 2026 by the 10 members of CONMEBOL, the South American confederation, meeting in congress in Buenos Aires.

The 10 are Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador Paraguay, Peru Uruguay and Venezuela.

Last month United 2026 received formal backing from the six voting members of UNCAF, the Central American football union. The six are Belize, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua and Panama; a seventh member, Guatemala, is currently suspended by FIFA and may not be readmitted in time for the World Cup host vote in Moscow on June 13.

A United 2026 bid committee statement said: “The United bid is grateful for today’s endorsement by CONMEBOL. This announcement builds on the support of UNCAF’s six voting member associations that the United bid was honoured to receive in March.

“We look forward to continuing our conversations with member associations around the world, highlighting the operational and economic certainty of our bid for the entire FIFA family.”

Infantino role

The bid evaluation panel has been criticised from within African football as comprising effective appointees by FIFA president Gianni Infantino who has been the subject of speculation that he would privately prefer the award to go to central/north America.

The panel is made up of joint deputy secretary-generals Marco Villiger and Zvonimir Boban, audit chair Tomaz Vesel (Slovenia), governance chair Mukul Mudgal (India) and competitions committee delegate Ilco Gjorgioski (Macedonia). Their modus operandi and powers were the subject of a rare bust-up in FIFA Council last month in Bogota.

Earlier on Friday the Morocco 2026 organisers announced that former Brazil star, Roberto Carlos, had joined the team of international ambassadors. Roberto Carlos was a World Cup winner with Brazil in 2002 and, at club level, won the Champions League, Spanish league and supercup.

He played for nine clubs across Spain, Italy, Brazil, India, Russia and Turkey including notably Real Madrid.