Governor Phil Murphy rejected President Joe Biden’s offer to be part of the US delegation to attend the closing ceremony of the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar on Sunday, the New Jersey Globe reported.

The invitation is another signal of the increasingly close relationship between Biden and Murphy, who heads the National Governors Association and the Democratic Governors Association. Murphy attended a state dinner Biden hosted this month in honor of French President Emmanuel Macron.

Murphy, an avid soccer fan, was asked to join a five-member delegation that includes U.S. Ambassador to Qatar Timmy Davis, White House National Security Council official Amanda Mansour, former U.S. men’s national team captain Claudio Reina and U.S. Congressional Soccer Caucus co-chairman Rick Larsen. (Washington State) and Darrin LaHood (Illinois State). The two-term governor and former US ambassador to Germany, who underwent minor surgery last week, will remain in New Jersey instead of making the 12-hour flight across nine time zones to Qatar.

In June, FIFA announced that New Jersey and New York will be among the sixteen North American countries to host the 2026 World Cup. New Jersey is in the running to host the final game.

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