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World Cup

Morocco escalate 2026 World Cup bid despite Fifa's red flags

17:21 BST 02/06/2018
Fouzi Lekjaa, Moulay Hafid Elalamy and Rachid Talbi Alami Morocco 2026 World Cup Bid Press Conference Casablanca 2018
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.

Morocco’s Greenwich Mean Time zone is appealing to European television audiences and sponsors, and the country’s proximity to Europe would also be convenient for the travelling fans.

Also short travels between venues is attractive against cross-boarder travelling between three North American countries.

But $14.3 billion forecast in ticketing and television rights revenue by the North American is its biggest selling point against Morocco’s projected $7.2 billion.

In its report, Fifa however noted a few flaws in the North American bid in areas relating to human rights and labour standards which were highlighted as medium risks.

“The first relates to national legislation concerning discrimination-free entry to the United States which was addressed and mitigated during the clarification process, while the second concerns the absence of specific commitments in relation to security and human rights by the governments of Canada and the United States,” Fifa said.

A repercussion threat issued by US President Donald Trump to countries that do not support the North American bid has been deemed as political interference, thereby tainting their quest.