Morocco Plays Europe Card for 2026 World Cup Bid

Published May 30th, 2018 - 03:23 GMT
“A Moroccan World Cup is not just an African World Cup,” El Amrani told the BBC.
“A Moroccan World Cup is not just an African World Cup,” El Amrani told the BBC.

The Morocco 2026 World Cup bid CEO Hicham El Amrani says hosting the tournament in the North African country would be like staging it in Europe

His remarks comes as both Morocco and rival joint US-Canada-Mexico candidate were due to meet the Fifa bid evaluating Task Force in Zurich on Wednesday. They will answer questions on their bids.

With just two weeks before 207 Fifa member associations vote for the 2026 World Cup hosts, the Moroccan bidding team now appear to be focusing more on Uefa, where the most influential voters come from.

Most European federations seem to have fallen for the appealing North African time zone which is similar to theirs.

Also, hosting the World Cup in North America entails longer flights between the three countries. Compare that to Morocco’s presentation which stresses domestic travelling for teams and fans falling within 75 minutes.

“A Moroccan World Cup is not just an African World Cup,” El Amrani told the BBC.

“It would also be almost a European World Cup with the south of Spain just 14km (nine miles) away. We’re just a few hours’ flying distance from capital cities across Europe, and the European countries will provide a huge number of fans.”

European countries like Spain, France, Germany and Russia who all have already declared their support for Morocco is likely to sway the bulk of the electorate into their corner.

Indications are that the North Africans have already won the backing of Austria, Czech Republic, Lichtenstein, Poland, Slovakia, Hungary and Switzerland.

Soliciting for votes is expected to reach a new high on May 31 when both bidders make presentations before the English FA.

“There is confidence from our meetings with member associations across Europe, they understand where we come from. They know of Moroccan hospitality and vibrancy," El Amrani said.

To satisfy the 48-team and 80-game 2026 World Cup, Morocco plans to build nine new stadiums and renovate five already existing ones.

This is on top of the intention to revamp road, rail and air transport infrastructure.

“Infrastructure-wise, without a doubt we can deliver,” El Amrani said.

In contrast, the American candidature is stronger in terms of already available stadiums, training bases, transport and projected billions in revenue to be generated from ticket sales and sponsorship.

Fifa’s bid evaluation Task Force is expected to announce if both bids have satisfied criteria to be eligible to contest the elections.

This is after they have visited Morocco twice while inspecting the American bid just once.

Africa has hosted the Fifa World Cup just once in history, that was in 2010 in South Africa and this is Morocco’s fifth attempt to host the global football tournament.

By Michael Madyira

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