The committees behind the two bids to stage the 2026 Fifa World Cup will meet with inspectors from football’s global governing body tomorrow (Wednesday) ahead of the June 13 vote to determine the host of the national team tournament.
Morocco is facing competition from ‘United 2026’ - a joint bid from the United States, Mexico and Canada, with a decision to be made on the host ahead of the start of this year’s World Cup in Russia on June 14.
The Associated Press news agency said Fifa’s bid inspectors will meet with representatives from the respective committees in Zurich tomorrow, with a question-and-answer session to be carried out before Fifa compiles evaluation reports on the two proposals.
Up to 207 Fifa member federations will vote on who should host the tournament. This marks a change from previous selection processes, which instead saw Fifa’s Executive Committee assign hosting rights.
The new rules allow Fifa’s five-man task force to disqualify a candidate should it return low scores in the evaluation reports. Member federations are not obliged to consider the evaluation reports when voting.
The 2026 World Cup will mark the first edition of the tournament to feature 48 teams, although Fifa president Gianni Infantino has said that he would consider introducing the expanded format four years early for Qatar 2022.
The United 2026 bid features stadia that are already in place. Morocco has proposed that 14 venues would either need building or renovating should it be successful in its bid.
The US staged the 1994 World Cup, with Mexico hosting in 1970 and 1986. Canada has yet to stage the men’s World Cup but hosted the women’s event in 2015. Should Morocco be awarded the 2026 World Cup it would mark only the second edition of the tournament to be held in Africa, with South Africa having hosted in 2010.
Morocco is confident of staging the 2026 World Cup despite serious concerns about their capacity to manage an expanded 48-team tournament Morocco now seek to land the hosting rights against the joint United States-Canada-Mexico bid which overwhelmingly secured Fifa’s approval for the June 13 elections.
The North Africans sailed through to the voting round although Fifa’s bid evaluation Task Force raised three red flags in areas of accommodation, transport and stadiums.
Needing the minimum score of two required to be on the ballot paper, Morocco was awarded 2.7 out of five against their rival’s four marks in the assessment report. “The amount of new infrastructure required for the Morocco 2026 bid to become reality cannot be overstated,” Fifa said in the report.
Morocco’s plans to construct nine new stadium while renovating five existing ones was deemed a “high risk” by Fifa.
A combined assessment on transport and accommodation was also concluded as high risk.
“The potential and significant risks which have been raised in respect to accommodation and transport on an individual basis also apply to this combined evaluation,” read Fifa’s report.
“The task force has also identified that the temporary transformation of non-purpose built accommodation could result in increased operational risks in terms of meeting the required service quality for key stakeholders.”
In the other 17 categories evaluated for risks, Morocco had 10 marked as medium risk and seven as low risk.
This is starkly in contrast to the North American bid which recorded no areas of high risks and had three medium risk areas and 17 of low risk.
But the Morocco team bid appear untroubled by the assessment as they now enter the crucial final days of convincing the 207 Fifa electorate to finally hand them hosting rights after four unsuccessful previous attempts.
"The 'Task Force' has today confirmed Morocco's technical ability to organise the 2026 World Cup. All of our team will continue to work towards victory on June 13 in Moscow,” Moncef Belkhayat of the Morocco bid committe was quoted as saying by AFP.
The Moroccan bid team was due to visit Pakistan on Saturday as they continue soliciting for votes.
Although their bid is blighted by grey areas, it appears most favoured by a majority of Uefa and Caf members as well as in the Oceania.
Cameroon are the latest to pledge support for Morocco.
The United States, Mexico and Canada win the FIFA vote to host World Cup 2026
FIFA — the sport’s international governing body — guaranteed that the U.S. will be an integral part of the future of global soccer when it awarded the 2026 World Cup to the combined North American bid of the United States, Mexico, and Canada.
FIFA’s members voted for the United Bid over Morocco’s challenge, 134-65.