African Football

Morocco in pole position to host 2026 World Cup

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Two formal bid books have been received from Morocco and the alliance of  United States, Canada, Mexico to host the 2026 World Cup.

The winning bid will be announced on June 13, but it’s obvious that Morocco should be picked, and that is said with absolutely no bias for the North American joint bid.

The reasons as to why Morocco should be picked are obvious.

Almost two months ago the North African nation made it with the clear intention of establishing itself as the primary, and perhaps only, legitimate contender to stage soccer’s grandest spectacle.

One should not be surprised if the 53 African countries vote for Morocco, in part because Morocco is an African country. But also because it’s pretty natural that a lot of these countries would not want to vote for the U.S. when it has a leader who has called African countries “s**thole” countries.

The North Africa country has been pitching the fact that they’re in a better time zone than the U.S. They’re pitching the fact that you don’t have to get on a plane for six hours and fly from one stadium to the other, and that’s true

In Morocco it will be great for the country and there’s something about a nation that is smaller population wise that always makes a world sporting event incredibly important for all who live there. Morocco is building a good track record by recently hosting the continent’s second biggest tournament – the African Nations Championship.

Morocco has also hosted big events like Africa Cup of Nations and the Francophone games, which featured 1,700 athletes. It has four failed past World Cup bids under its belt and is seen as more likely to win a first.

There have been messages of support from individual nations outside Africa such as Qatar and Saudi Arabia. In a change from previous campaigns, Morocco will need to gain a majority of the 211 national football federations that will attend the Moscow Congress, rather than the 24 members of the now-defunct FIFA Executive Committee.

Remember the expanded 2026 FIFA World Cup will include 48 teams, up from 32 teams for the 2018 and 2022 tournament.

A lean compact tournament is favourable and that would serve in stark contrast to FIFA’s previous obsession with the big and the expensive. Flight times within Morocco would not be more than 90 minutes between any two stadium sites.

More time to rest and to play for players and fans,modular lean stadiums that are relatively quick to assemble which is an important concept as international sports associations and nations are beginning to consider affordability and rationality in stadium construction.

Additionally, currency exchange hassles for fans would be significantly less during a Morocco World Cup. Visually, Morocco packs a lot into its California-plus-sized landscape. Coastal metro areas like Rabat, Casablanca and Tangier easily connect with regional centers like Marrakech, Fes, and Oujda. Train service in the kingdom reaches nearly all proposed stadium sites.

FIFA relies on the World Cup tournament to generate a large portion of its revenue and yearly income. The 2014 World Cup in Brazil earned FIFA around $2.6 billion, a vast majority of which came through TV broadcast rights and sponsorships.

Morocco is on Greenwich Mean Time (GMT), a big advantage for TV broadcasters for the many millions of soccer fans across Europe, the Middle East and Africa who would watch games live during lucrative and optimal late afternoon and evening hours.

Five thousand miles and more than a billion people away southward in Africa, Cape Town is just two hours ahead of GMT. That means numerous European and African teams would likely enjoy the luxury of practicing in their home training facilities during the run-up to the tournament.

Morocco has highlighted in its bid book that as an African endeavor that will show the unity and growing prosperity that exists on the continent. The Confederation of African Football (CAF) is the largest (by membership) of the six continental soccer federations that constitute FIFA.

Recently the CAF head Ahmed Ahmad has said recently that Morocco’s bid has a larger meaning for the continent: “Africa is a family and has a solidarity culture which we must see during the voting.”

Saaturday will mark the opening salvo in what figures to be a short and decisive battle. By establishing itself as an organized, efficient and heavyweight bid right at the start, the Morocco bid might have knocked the fight out of its potential rivals 90 days before the official start of lobbying and begging.

About Festus Chuma

A lover of African football who boasts experience in journalism, having previously worked at Brand Agenda Publications, East Africa University News and University Post in Uganda before moving to Soka25east.com. On Twitter @fgchuma

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