Botswana Football Association (BFA) president, Maclean Letshwiti sought President, Mokgweetsi Masisi's direction before he flew out to Russia to cast his vote to choose the 2026 World Cup host.
Botswana gave its vote to the united North American bid of Canada, Mexico and the US, shunning fellow Africans, Morocco.
Eleven African countries broke rank and instead voted for the united bid, in what was viewed as a political move than a football decision. The territorial conflict, which has dogged Morocco over the disputed Western Sahara, was seen as key in swaying votes to North America. Ironically, Western Sahara leader, Brahim Ghali visited Botswana, Lesotho, Namibia, South Afirica and Zimbabwe, just days before the bid vote, and all countries turned their backs on Morocco. The leaders of the respective countries pledged support for Western Sahara. The Western Sahara is a disputed territory in the Maghreb region of North Africa, partially controlled by the self-proclaimed Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic and partially Moroccan-occupied. BFA chief executive officer, Mfolo Mfolo confirmed they met Masisi last week and the issue of the World Cup bid was discussed.
However, he refused to divulge details of the meeting. “We cannot disclose the opinion of HE (His Excellency) on the World Cup. It is confidential and privileged information,” Mfolo said. He said their decision to vote for the North
“The bids were evaluated on what offer is good for football in general and also the technical evaluations presented before member associations,” Mfolo said.
However, a source close to the developments said it was imperative that the BFA top brass met Masisi before flying out to Russia for the vote.
“It is not just a football decision, it is very political. Remember last time when the BFA voted for (Sepp) Blatter, then president (Ian Khama) was unhappy. So it was critical to touch base and get HE’s views,” the source said.
US President, Donald Trump, earlier this year waded into the bid war when he openly urged countries to vote for America.
“It would be a shame if countries that we always support were to lobby against the US bid. Why should we be supporting these countries when they don’t support us (including at the United Nations)?” he tweeted in April.
Although FIFA warned against ‘undue political influence’ by governments Trump tweeted again, urging African countries and countries throughout the world to support the US bid. “We will be watching very closely.”