2026 World Cup Bid: FIFA Secretary General cleared of wrongdoing

By Jonathan Copping, Lawyer, Stone King, London, UK

Fatma Samoura, the FIFA Secretary General, has been cleared of any wrongdoing by the FIFA Ethics Committee, following a review into an alleged breach of its Code of Ethics relating to “duty of disclosure, co-operation and reporting” and “conflict of interests” in relation to the bidding contest for the 2026 World Cup.

Samoura was appointed Secretary General by FIFA President, Gianni Infantino, on 13 May 2016, having previously worked at the United Nations.

The alleged breach of the Code focused on an alleged undeclared family link between Samoura and former Liverpool striker, El Hadji Diouf. Both Samoura and Diouf are from Senegal. Currently, Diouf is acting as an ambassador for the Moroccan bid for the 2026 World Cup.

The Moroccan bid is the main rival to the joint bid from Canada, USA and Mexico to host the 2026 World Cup. The vote to hold the event will take place at the FIFA Annual Congress, which takes place In Moscow on 13 June, the day before the 2018 World Cup in Russia kicks off.

Whilst initially thought of as something of an outside bid, the Moroccan bid is now seen as having a serious chance of winning.

The bidding process for the 2026 World Cup has changed, with the removal of the much-criticised voting procedure used for the 2018 and 2022 World Cup, where only a small number of FIFA executives voted. Now the voting power has been placed in the hands of the 211 FIFA member associations.

Following a review by the Ethics Committee, a statement has been released confirming that “no such family link exists between Ms Samoura and Mr Diouf” and the Ethics Committee considered the case to be closed.

Whilst this development for FIFA appears to be significantly overblown, it comes, at a time, when FIFA has been trying to move away from its troubled and corrupt past!

Jonathan Copping may be contacted by e-mail at ‘JonathanCopping@stoneking.co.uk’