Jordaan caught between Morocco and a hard place
State has told Safa president not to vote for Moroccan World Cup bid but CAF wants a united African front
South African Football Association president Danny Jordaan could find himself in a tight bind next month at the Fifa congress in Moscow where he must cast a vote in the selection of the 2026 World Cup hosts.
Jordaan has been warned by the government to toe the line on the country’s policy over Morocco, which is up against a joint north American bid for the right to host the globe’s biggest sporting event eight years from now.
South Africa has strained relations with Morocco over the Western Sahara issue and Sports Minister Tokozile Xasa fired a shot across the Safa bow earlier this month, warning Safa not to vote for the North Africans.
But Jordaan’s own position within the Confederation of African Football’s hierachy would be under threat if he is seen to be breaking with CAF’s attempts to present a united front behind Morocco.CAF president Ahmad is particularly close to the Moroccans, who have funded many of his initiatives since he came to power in March last year.
Jordaan won his seat on the executive committee – after previously failing – on the coattails of Ahmad’s surprise ouster of longstanding president Issa Hayatou, and would need to keep in the CAF president’s good books if he is to win reelection in 2021.
If he steps out of line, he faces the possibility of being isolated for the rest of his term in the executive committee, as has happened to many members who dared to cross Hayatou during his time in charge.
Xasa said at a press conference: “We are very clear that we can’t support Morocco. Our parliament was very straightforward in this regard‚ it is the mandate of the country and it is an obligation for sporting bodies to understand what the country’s agenda is.”
Morocco has claimed Western Sahara since colonial power Spain left in 1975, invading the territory.But South Africa, like many other countries, recognises Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic and supports the Polisario liberation movement which seeks independence for the territory.
Since the Sports minister’s pronouncement, Jordaan has sought in recent weeks to distance himself from the vote.
Safa had given an enthusiastic reception to a Morocco bid delegation that visited Safa House.
But now Safa have declared that it is their executive committee that must decide and it will come as no surprise if Jordaan does not actually walk up to the voting booth in Moscow, but leaves the job of filing in the voting form to one of his underlings in the Safa delegation who will be with him at the Fifa Congress on June 13.