A high-powered delegation from North America’s 2026 World Cup bid courted Football Association of Malawi (Fam) through its Vice-President, James Mwenda, in Polokwane, South Africa, on Saturday.
Mwenda confirmed on Sunday that the United Bid delegation, comprising Mexico, the United States and Canada, met him on the sidelines of the council of the on-going Cosafa Castle Cup.
“Basically, they were targeting presidents of all associations in the Cosafa region. So when they heard that the president [Fam President Walter Nyamilandu] was not coming, they decided to meet me. They were basically looking for support regarding their bid,” he said.
Fam is among 207 Fifa affiliates that will vote for the host of the global event in Russia, the hosts of the 2018 World Cup.
The race for the 2026 tournament is between the United Bid and that of Morocco.
But Mwenda said they were yet to decide between the United Bid and Morocco, whose football association recently entered into a technical agreement with Fam.
“We are also supposed to discuss [the issue] as an Executive Committee before we go to the Fifa Congress in Russia. We will sit down and evaluate the two bids—the United Bid and the Morocco bid. I
cannot lie to you that as a person I can make a decision. It is about collective decision. I need to brief my boss [Nyamilandu] about it,” Mwenda said.
Decio de Maria and Steven Reed, presidents of Canada and Mexico football federations, respectively, and Managing Director of the United Bid, Jim Brown, confirmed to have met Mwenda at Fusion Hotel to drum up support from Malawi ahead of the open vote in Russia.
“We are very excited and humbled to be able to speak with presidents of Cosafa [member countries] and to explain to them why we are here and why the three countries are trying together to [stage] a big bid and what that means for football.
“Having three countries as different as we are, [of] different sizes as we are but who love football and being able to work together to put a united bid, is a strong message to the world of football,” De Maria said.
He said the three countries’ bid symbolises the power of football to unite people of different nationalities, political and social inclinations; hence, it is only fair that they win the contest.
Reed said they were ready to stage the bloated 48-team World Cup if successful.
“I think of all of our countries as being very open and inclusive and very passionate about football. We have a very large immigrant population in all our [three] countries and they are very welcoming.
“Fan experience is very important to us and we would be excited to welcome everybody from the global football community to our countries,” Reed said.
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