2026 FIFA World Cup: Morocco bids to host
By Thandisizwe Mgudlwa
CAPE TOWN – In its firth attempt, Morocco is seeking to host the greatest showpiece on the earth, the FIFA World Cup.
Morocco’s bid, however, has been considered an outsider to land 2026, by some analysts.
The reason for this is that the United States, Canada and Mexico, who have launched their joint bid in April already, have much of the infrastructure required to host the largest football World Cup ever.
As part of changes to the tournament’s format announced earlier this year, FIFA’s showpiece event will be expanded from 32 to 48 teams in 2026.
Both bidders have until March 16, 2018 to formally submit their proposals to FIFA for consideration.
And a decision on whether one of the bids will be accepted will then be made at next June’s FIFA Congress in Moscow.
Should FIFA decide not to accept the proposal, the bidding process can be re-opened to other countries ahead of a final decision in 2020.
Leaders of the United Bid, as the North American effort is known, acknowledged Morocco’s entry into the race on Friday, with US Soccer president Sunil Gulati welcoming the competition.
“We’ve always been prepared for the fact that other countries could also decide to bid for the 2026 FIFA World Cup,” said Gulati. “Competition is good, and overall it shows the value and importance of the World Cup.”
Gulati added that the North American bid team will “provide an update on the number of cities” across all three countries that are interested in staging matches.
In a statement released this week, the Royal Moroccan Football Federation (FRMF) confirmed its intention to enter the race for the tournament on Friday.
This was just hours before a FIFA deadline for expressions of interest.
The north western country is to challenge a joint bid from the United States, Canada and Mexico for the right to host the 2026 FIFA World Cup.
A plus for Morocco’s bid, a fifth attempt following failed efforts for the 1994, 1998, 2006, and 2010 editions, is that is has the support of the Confederation of African Football (CAF).
CAF gave its backing in July following the election of new president Ahmad Ahmad of Madagascar.
If the Moroccan bid is successful, the country would become the second African nation to host a World Cup, after South Africa hosted the tournament in 2010.
The United bid has already announced that it plans to stage 60 matches in the US, with Canada and Mexico hosting ten games each.
Only countries from the Americas, Africa and Oceania can submit bids for the 2026 World Cup.
FIFA’s rotational hosting policy, state that European and Asian nations are not permitted to run due to Russia and Qatar hosting the next two editions in 2018 and 2022 respectively.