So far there are strong indications that Zimbabwe will become the latest African country to back the North American candidature after South Africa and Liberia were tipped to do so.
The North Americans face a stern challenge from Morocco for the right to host the 2026 Fifa World Cup as the June 13 poll day looms, and canvassing for votes is hitting epic levels.
United bid managing director Jim Brown, Canadian Soccer Association president Steven Reed and outgoing Mexican Football Federation boss Decio de Maria jetted into Zimbabwe on Monday.
They were due to meet Zimbabwe FA president Phillip Chiyangwa as well as Zimbabwe’s Foreign and Sports Ministers on Tuesday, after making a presentation to the South African Sports Minister and that country’s football chiefs on Sunday.
“We are here to discuss the United bid for the Fifa World Cup 2026. So we want to tell them our story about this bid and the quality and merits of our bid and ask for their support,” Reed told Zimbabwean publication The Herald.
Unites States President Donald Trump’s threat of retribution on African countries that snub the United bid is likely to impact hugely on Zimbabwe who are desperate to end years of acrimonious diplomatic relations with the United States.
Zimbabwe’s Foreign Minister Sibusiso Moyo who has been on a diplomatic offensive to try and mend relations was in the United States in April and will look to take Tuesday’s meeting with the United bid representatives as a golden re-engagement opportunity.
However, Zimbabwe FA vice-president Omega Sibanda told The Herald that they are yet to decide on who to back to host the 2016 Fifa World Cup.
“They have come to present their bid to Zimbabwe. They will meet Zifa president and other government officials tomorrow (Tuesday),” Sibanda said.
“As Zimbabwe, we haven’t made a decision about who to vote for yet. Probably after they had met the president a decision could be made by the Zifa executive committee.”
Political and economic reasons have also been instrumental in influencing South Africa and Liberia to back the United bid.
A $14.3 billion forecast in revenue by the North Americans is said to have made Fifa prefer them over Morocco and traditionally, the Zimbabwe FA never stands on the opposite side of the world football governing body.
The 2026 World Cup vote has thrown Zimbabwe into a conundrum as backing the United candidature would be against the wish of Caf president Ahmad who has been lobbying African countries to rally behind Morocco.
Interestingly, Ahmad is a close ally of Chiyangwa.
Last week Cameroon was the latest Caf member to pledge support for Morocco.
This is not the first time for Morocco and the United States to face off in a bid to host the World Cup, as the latter prevailed for the right to stage the 1994 tournament.