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FIFA urged by Morocco World Cup committee to deny U.S. territories 2026 vote - sources

For the first time in 20 years, Morocco have qualified for the World Cup. Can they potentially cause an upset in Russia?
ICC organizer Charlie Stillitano suggests Morocco's late 2026 World Cup bid is no match for the North American joint bid.
U.S. soccer president Sunil Gulati is confident that North America's infrastructure will support its World Cup joint bid.

The Moroccan Football Federation has written to FIFA for the second time in a month to raise concerns over the potential conflict of interest of four overseas United States territories participating in the vote to decide the host of the 2026 World Cup, sources have told ESPN FC.

Morocco has also asked FIFA to inform the four territories -- American Samoa, Guam, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands -- that they cannot vote in Moscow on June 13, sources said.

Morocco will attempt to overcome the joint bid by Mexico, Canada and the U.S. to become only the second African nation, following South Africa in 2010, to stage the tournament.

Voting is due to be decided by 207 FIFA member federations, with the four nations bidding for the event ineligible to vote.

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.

And with voting just three weeks away, the Moroccan Football Federation has contacted FIFA again. Sources made ESPN FC aware of the contents of the letter, which has called for clarification of the provisions of Clause 4.2 of the FIFA Bidding Regulations.

"In the event that a delegate of the FIFA Congress has a conflict of interest, such delegates shall not perform their duties in connection with, and the member association represented by such delegate shall decline to participate in, the voting process of the FIFA Congress for the decision to award the right for the hosting of the 2026 FIFA World Cup," reads the clause, which is included in the letter.

"As explained in our letter dated April 26, 2018, the FIFA Member Associations of Guam, Puerto Rico, United States Virgin Islands and American Samoa [the Conflicted Members] have undoubtedly a conflict of interest to the extent that the local inhabitants of Guam, Puerto Rico, and the United States Virgin Islands are U.S. citizens and the local inhabitants of American Samoa are U.S. nationals."

Morocco also wants FIFA to "guarantee a fair and transparent Bidding Procedure" by asking the governing body to "request each of the Conflicted Members to notify [the] FIFA General Secretariat about its decision to decline to perform its duties in connection with the bidding procedure for the hosting of the 2026 FIFA World Cup, and inform each of the Conflicted Members that it is not allowed to perform its duties in connection with the Bidding Procedure for the hosting of the final competition of the of the 2026 FIFA World Cup."

Mark Ogden is a senior football writer for ESPN FC. Follow him @MarkOgden_

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