Morocco has outlined details of its bid to host soccer’s 2026 Fifa World Cup national team tournament.
The North African country, which is the only rival to a joint bid from Canada, Mexico and the US, will emphasise its ‘best-possible conditions’ and ‘sweet spot location’ when it submits its official bid book to soccer’s global governing body Fifa later this month.
Morocco is making a fifth bid to host the World Cup, after failing to win rights to stage the 1994, 1998, 2006 and 2010 editions.
The country has selected 12 host cities, including the capital Rabat, tourism centres Marrakech and Fes, as well as Casablanca and Tanger. The other venues include Agadir, El Jadida, Meknes, Nador, Oujda, Ouarzazate and Tetouan.
Morocco has set out the advantages of staging the 48-team tournament in its country, emphasising the ease and affordability of travel, where maximum internal flying time for any team will be around 75 minutes.
‘Morocco will deliver the best-possible conditions for players and teams,’ the Moroccan bid team’s information document states. ‘Quality of play will be enhanced by an optimal playing environment based on compact geography and a Mediterranean climate.’
The country also says that its Greenwich Mean Time (GMT) time zone will be attractive to the European audience and to sponsors.
‘Beyond profitability, Morocco's sweet spot location will allow all European fans to watch World Cup games in decent and premium hours,’ the document continues.
The country’s time zone, it says, ‘fits perfectly with the lucrative European broadcast market. Fifa will also benefit from working with a single, central government administration, for whom sustainable development is a national priority.’
The country will also highlight its ecological advantage, claiming that the ‘environmental impact of a 48-team World Cup is expected to be lower than [the two] previous 32-team World Cups.’
Morocco will need 104 votes when Fifa makes a final decision on the host of the 2026 event in Russia on 13th June.
The country qualified for its first World Cup in 20 years last November, and earlier this year both hosted and won the 2018 African Nations Championship (CHAN 2018), a biennial international tournament exclusively featuring players from the continent’s respective national championships.
Africa has hosted the World Cup once, when South Africa staged the event in 2010, while Mexico and the United States are hoping to host the finals for a third and second time respectively.