South Africa backs Morocco in bid to host 2026 World Cup

In this Friday Dec. 1, 2017 file photo, the World Cup trophy is placed on display during the 2018 soccer World Cup draw in the Kremlin in Moscow. (Alexander Zemlianichenko/AP)

JOHANNESBURG — South African soccer leader Danny Jordaan has promised Morocco "unqualified support" to host the 2026 World Cup in a contest against a combined North American bid.

The South African federation said Monday that Jordaan assured a visiting Morocco bid delegation "he will personally lobby" African officials ahead of the scheduled vote in Moscow on June 13.

Morocco is up against a United States-Canada-Mexico bid to stage the continent’s second World Cup. South Africa hosted in 2010, after beating Morocco and Egypt in a vote.

That South African bid is being investigated by the U.S. Department of Justice for a suspicious $10 million payment to FIFA voters in the North American region. In indictments published by the justice department in 2015, two of the listed "co-conspirators" are South African soccer officials who are not identified.

Now, Morocco is competing against the Americans to co-host the 48-team tournament. Up to 207 FIFA member federations will vote at their congress on the eve of the World Cup in Russia.

North American bid leaders targeted the 14-member southern African soccer body COSAFA at a February meeting in Johannesburg.

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