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FIFA will not block US territories from 2026 World Cup vote

US, Canadian And Mexican Soccer Federations Make Major Announcement

NEW YORK, NY - APRIL 10: Sunil Gulati, (center) president of the United States Soccer Federation (USSF), Canadian CONCACAF President Victor Montagliani (left) and Mexican Football Federation President Decio De Maria hold up a signed unified bid for the 2026 soccer world cup on April 10, 2017 in New York City. Canada, the United States and Mexico launched their bid to co-host the 2026 World Cup at a news conference atop the Freedom Tower in lower Manhattan. The leaders of the three country’s soccer federations are seeking to host the first World Cup with an expanded 48-nation field. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

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FIFA will not block U.S.-governed territories from voting in the 2026 World Cup contest where a United States-led bid is taking on Morocco.

The bidding nations - the U.S. along with partners Canada and Mexico, as well as Morocco - are excluded from the June 13 vote by more than 200 federations at the FIFA Congress.

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In a letter to FIFA, Morocco raised questions over whether American Samoa, Guam, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands would have a conflict in the vote. Although governed by the U.S., the quartet is considered to be four separate football nations by FIFA so each has a vote.

FIFA bidding regulations puts the onus on congress delegates to declare if they feel the need to withdraw from participating in the vote.

“FIFA’s member associations are entitled to participate and vote in the FIFA Congress,” world football’s governing body said in a statement to The Associated Press, pointing to the rules. “Regarding potential conflicts of interest in the context of the voting procedure for the election of the host of the 2026 FIFA World Cup ... at the time of writing, no member association has notified FIFA about its intention not to perform their duties in connection with the bidding procedure.”

FIFA’s ruling executive committee chose the World Cup sites from 1986-2022, but now the decision has been opened up to the membership with each vote to be made public.

Morocco has repeatedly protested about the fairness of the process and the role of FIFA President Gianni Infantino as the north African nation tries to avoid a fifth unsuccessful bid.

Morocco complained that FIFA had imposed burdensome demands for technical criteria that the bids will be scored on. FIFA, which has defended the integrity of the contest, last month sent a task force to inspect both bids. The FIFA Council could block a bid that doesn’t meet minimum requirements over infrastructure, costs and revenue projections from the vote in Moscow.

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Rob Harris is at www.twitter.com/RobHarris and www.facebook.com/RobHarrisReports

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More AP World Cup coverage: www.apnews.com/tag/WorldCup