First Published: 2017-08-11

Morocco to bid for 2026 FIFA World Cup
If successful, Morocco would become only second African country to host football's flagship event following South Africa in 2010.
Middle East Online

Men play football near the beach in Rabat, Morocco

RABAT - Morocco's football federation (FRMF) announced on Friday it had told the sport's world governing body FIFA it will bid to host the 2026 World Cup.

It would be Morocco's fifth candidacy having come up short already in 1994, 1998, 2006 and 2010.

"Morocco considers itself capable of organsining a World Cup," youth and sports minister Rachid Talbi Alami said.

"We have the necessary infrastructure in terms of stadiums, transport, hotel capacity and sanitation."

In April, the United States, Canada and Mexico had already announced a joint North American bid to host the tournament.

If successful, Morocco would become only the second African country to host football's flagship event following South Africa in 2010.

The north Africans have received backing from African confederation (CAF) president Ahmad Ahmad.

"We are convinced that Morocco could organise this competition just as was done by South Africa in 2010," said Malagasy Ahmad after he was elected to succeed Cameroon's Issa Hayatou as head of the African body.

However, FIFA last year accepted that the country had paid bribes to the former head of the North and Central American Confederation in trying to win the right to host the 1998 and 2010 tournaments -- something that could prejudice any future bid.

But FIFA president Gianni Infantino has echoed Ahmad's endorsement, saying that Morocco has the necessary "infrastructure and organisational capacity" to host the World Cup.

The 2026 tournament will be the first with an expanded 48-team tournament, up from the current 32 qualifiers.

Morocco had won the right to host the 2015 Africa Cup of Nations but pulled out at the 11th hour over concerns related to the Ebola outbreak in western Africa at the time.

But the country has embarked on a professionalisation drive to improve its football infrastructure while increasing it's candidacies for various tournaments in order to improve its chances of landing a much coveted World Cup.

Morocco has hosted two Club World Cup tournaments, in 2013 and 2014, although that is a vastly smaller and shorter tournament.

 

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