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FIFA lifts ban on 2026 World Cup voters publicly backing bid

LONDON: A ban on voters publicly endorsing a 2026 World Cup bid has been lifted by FIFA in the face of criticism from soccer officials.

The governing body last month ordered officials not to openly discuss the merits of either the joint Northern American bid, featuring the United States, Canada and Mexico, or the rival Morocco contender.

It led to Confederation of African Football President Ahmad, who goes by just one name, expressing frustration at being restricted from backing his continent’s bid.

But FIFA Secretary General Fatma Samoura informed members this week of an about-turn in a letter to member associations offering new guidance on the bid rules of conduct.

“All public statements by football officials in support of one bidder are admissible provided that they meet the underlying principles of ethical behavior,” Samoura said in the letter. “They shall be limited to genuine support for the preferred bidder and contain no statements against the competitive bidder or requests for bloc voting.

“Officials shall consider whether, from a common sense perspective, the nature and form of a statement can be considered as ‘fair’ and ‘not unduly influencing the bidding process.’”