The football federations for the United States territories of American Samoa, Guam, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands will not vote on Wednesday when FIFA members decide the hosts of the 2026 World Cup, sources confirmed to ESPN FC.
The territories’ decision, first reported by The Guardian, comes after repeated urging from the Morocco bid and could potentially take four votes away from the North American “United bid” of the U.S., Mexico and Canada.
The Moroccan Football Federation had written to FIFA multiple times in May to raise concerns over the potential conflict of interest of the four territories participating in the vote, sources said.
FIFA has previously urged federations to declare a possible conflict of interest ahead of the vote, but none of the four American-governed territories has done so. None of the U.S., Canada, Mexico or Morocco will be allowed to vote either.
Also on Tuesday, the Dutch Football Federation (KNVB) came out in support for the Morocco bid, citing a “moral obligation,” but Germany became the first European country to back the United bid.
“We want to do something for all the good things Africa and Morocco have brought to Dutch football in recent years,” KNVB president Michael van Praag said.
Morocco’s team at this year’s World Cup in Russia features five Netherlands-born players — Moubarak Boussoufa, Karim El Ahmadi, Hakim Ziyech, and the Amrabat brothers Nordin and Sofyan.
With votes set to be made public for the first time, the Dutch join a number of other European countries who have announced support for Morocco, including France, Serbia, Russia, Belgium and Luxembourg — with only Germany thus far backing the U.S.
— Reinhard Grindel (@R_Grindel) June 12, 2018
French federation chief Noel Le Graet, speaking in support of the African bid on Tuesday, said he expects about half of Europe’s 55 votes to go to Morocco.
In Africa, at least 13 of the 54 countries have pledged support for Morocco, while Liberia, Namibia and Zimbabwe support the United bid.
Conversely, at least 11 federations from CONCACAF’s 35 support the U.S.-led bid, though four Carribbean members may support Morocco.
South America confederation CONMEBOL has said its 10 teams will all vote for the North American bid.
Among Asia’s 46 voters, Lebanon, Myanmar, Palestine and Qatar are expected to back Morocco, with Afghanistan, Australia and Saudi Arabia backing the U.S.
ESPN FC’s Mark Ogden contributed to this report.