Russia set to back Morocco's bid for 2026 FIFA World Cup
Russian Football Union official Pyotr Barkalov has revealed that the country will support Morocco's bid for the 2026 FIFA World Cup.
According to Morocco World News, Barkalov said: "Morocco has considerable assets that can allow it to challenge the United States, Mexico, and Canada.
"Given the close relations between our two countries, we will vote for Morocco."
Barkalov's comments echo recent remarks by Russia's ambassador to Morocco Valery Vorobiev, who said his country believes the African nation's bid is "the best" option to host the tournament in 2026.
During a press conference held at the Russian Embassy in Rabat on Saturday (March 24), Vorobiev said that the Morocco 2026 bid was the best option terms of logistics due to its close proximity to countries in Africa, the Middle East and Europe, something he described as "good for fans".
Vorobiev was also very critical of Morocco's sole rival, the united bid from the US, Mexico and Canada.
"Objectively, the three candidate countries are weak in football, we all know the American, Mexican and Canadian football," he said.
Russia's stance on the Morocco 2026 bid comes as little surprise given the recent decline in relations between the country and the US.
It follows allegations that the Russian Government were behind the poisoning of former Russian spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter in the British city of Salisbury earlier this month.
The incident has caused the US to expel 60 diplomats from Russia.
Along with this backing from Russia, the Morocco 2026 bid, which was submitted to FIFA on March 15, has been gathering momentum with support supposedly also coming from several African countries as well as France, Serbia, Luxembourg and Qatar.
Two-hundred-and-eleven international football federations, not including Morocco, US, Canada or Mexico, will vote for their favourite bid at a meeting in Moscow on June 13, the day before the Russian 2018 World Cup gets underway.
The new one country, one vote system represents a change from the awarding of the 2018 and 2022 World Cups, given to Russia and Qatar respectively, which involved just the FIFA Executive Committee.
Corruption allegations plagued the vote and eventually led to the downfall of former FIFA President Sepp Blatter.