CAIRO: The president of the African football confederation has ignored FIFA strictures in specifically proposing that European nations should back Morocco to host the 2026 World Cup . . . in exchange for African backing a UEFA nation for 2030 writes KEIR RADNEDGE.

A five-strong task force empowered by the world football federation ran the rule last week over the North African nation’s bid to win staging rights to the finals in 2026. Morocco faces competition from a cohosting proposal from the United States, Canada and Mexico ahead of a vote by FIFA Congress in Moscow in June.

With task force representatives heading back later this week amid signs that all was not well, CAF president Ahmad Ahmad has ramped up the pressure on potential voters.

He told agencies and local media: “We say to Europe: vote for us, we will vote for you next time. It is in Europe’s interest to vote for Morocco because of [similar] time zones, distance, fans. Also visas. Europeans do not need a visa to go to Morocco so all that suggests that Europe must vote for Morocco “.

The vast majority of CAF’s 54 members are expected to vote for Morocco if the north African nation can satisfy the FIFA task force about the serious potential of its bad.

Critics have queried the objectivity of the task force because its five members were all appointees of FIFA president Gianni Infantino who is believed, privately, to favour the United 2026 bid from the United States supported by Canada and Mexico.

African suspicions of FIFA motives have been exacerbated after weekend reports in Germany the world governing body attempted to change the application criteria to Morocco’s detriment – a proposal which was rejected only after objections by members of the task force.

FIFA reportedly decided late in the day that the required number of existing stadiums should be increased from four to six when Morocco have only five.

Lawyers consulted by the Morocco bid are reportedly preparing, if necessary, to appeal a bid rejection on the grounds of a number of regulation violations.