The hope of many of Football fans from Africa was to see Morocco win the bid to host the 2026 FIFA World Cup but United States, Canada and Mexico jointly won the bid after winning 134 votes to beat Morocco’s 65.
Prayers were up for Morocco not because fans from Africa will not be able to afford travel to North America but because of very strict measures in place for acquiring visas to North America. A great number of visa applicants would be denied the opportunity to witness the 2026 World Cup.
Barely a year ago, the United States was awarded the bid to host the Olympics in 2028 which will definitely record a low turnout from Africa as Donald Trump tightens the borders of the United States. There have been instances in the past where boxers and footballers were denied visas to fight or play outside the continent and there is no doubt that some athletes partaking in the Olympics would be denied visas to travel to the United States.
“The philosophy of the Olympics Movement is one that promotes togetherness and unity of the world’s people regards of demographic differences such as gender, colour or creed.
This is superbly exhibited with the logo of the Games, which are five interlocking rings of different colours to represent the five continents that feature at the Games; Africa, The Americas, Asia, Australia and Europe. And that idea of unity will likely suffer a major blight if concerns about travel are not resolved.”
The joy associated with qualifying to World Cup is so huge that all soccer lovers who could afford would love to travel to support their teams as they compete for the grand trophy. Thousands of people would be denied this joyful moment.
The United States has been tightening its borders daily for a couple of years now and the election of Donald Trump is set to make it increasingly difficult. His administration has already introduced entry restrictions on citizens from certain Muslim-majority countries.
During the 2015 FIFA Women’s World Cup in Canada, there were widespread rumours that only people having more than GHS 40,000 in their bank accounts were granted visas whereas people from the west embark on vacations on credit; monies they have not yet realised.
Embassies and High Commissions in Africa see it as favour to grant visas to visa applicants and forget what their countries stand to benefit from tourists. The acts of insignificant people who end up as illegal immigrants do not rule out that all applicants will also end up so especially when applicants have several ties back home.
Even when host countries decide to offer visa-free travels for people visiting for the games, there are always clauses for fans from Africa. Russia announced a simplified travel procedures for fans visiting for the World Cup but fans from Africa were supposed to be part of organised fan groups. The decision to travel as a group or be a member of an association cannot be enforced on someone.
I can predict for sure that the United States, Canada and Mexico would be waiving visas for fans traveling for the World Cup but would definitely have clauses to prevent people coming from Africa.
The ‘United 2026’ would be a great tournament but not for fans from Africa.
By: Akesse Sanza, Travel Blogger