Despite the fact that excitement surrounding this summer’s World Cup is yet to reach peak levels, Morocco have announced their finalised plans for a potential World Cup in 2026.
The 2026 edition of the World’s biggest sporting competition will be the first to feature 48 teams, meaning there is a heightened impetus placed on infrastructure and scheduling.
At the time of writing, Morocco’s only contenders for hosting the tournament is the joint Pan-American bid, featuring the US, Mexico and Canada.
Morocco has just successfully hosted the African Championship of Nations at the beginning of this year, despite only taking over from intended hosts Kenya in October 2017 – and the Northern African country has already offered to host the 2019 African Cup of Nations if Cameroon cannot carry out the appropriate stadium upgrades in time.
The 2015 edition of Africa’s biggest international tournament was also awarded to Morocco, but they themselves were stripped of hosting rights after expressing concerns about the Ebola virus.
Despite making bids for the 1994, ’98, 2006 and 2010 World Cups, Morocco has not hosted a major competition since AFCON 1988 – but is it finally time for the World’s biggest tournament to visit North Africa?
Let’s check out how the two bids size-up head-to-head:
Bigger isn’t always better – especially when it comes to travelling. Morocco has the advantage here – with the claim that the longest journey will only take 75 minutes by plane.
Whilst teams and fans won’t be travelling from Mexico to Canada in the group stages, the USA alone would pose travel problems due to the distances – let alone spread across an entire continent.
Click here to see all of the proposed stadiums of the Moroccan bid.
The US could host a World Cup tomorrow- with so many multi-purpose stadiums across its 50 states.
Mexico is similar – after hosting two previous World Cups, you’d expect so!
This is where Morocco’s size is a hindrance – there isn’t as much space, nor need, for massive stadia.
The US and Mexico already have seven 65,000+ capacity stadiums, whilst Morocco’s highest capacity ground comes in at 67,000.
Morocco’s’ second biggest stadium is only a 52,000 capacity ground.
However, to counter-act this, Morocco intends to replace its biggest ground, Stade Mohamed V, with a 100,000 stadium named the Grand Stade de Casablanca. As well as hosting the final, it would be the home of city rivals Wydad Casablanca and Raja Casablanca, as well as the National team.
Of the 14 venues put forward for consideration, only five currently exist – and one of those would have to be expanded to the 65,000 mark, with FIFA requiring two venues to be capable of hosting 65,000+ fans for the quarter-final stages and onwards.
Morocco’s proximity to Europe has been touted as a strong reason to award the African country the hosting rights, and with every hosting city outfitted by an airport, there is a definitely a point to be argued.
However, North America is a very accessible continent and the infrastructure is already there for mass-tourism.
Climate wise, average weather during June for the entire country of Morocco is roughly 33ºC, but coastal towns are a lot cooler – and luckily, seven of the twelve cities picked lie on the North Atlantic coast.
It’s a similar story in parts of the USA and Mexico – Southern California, where three venues will be situated, reaches similar highs during the same months.
North America has hosted the World Cup three times already – whilst Africa has only had that opportunity once. On top of that, Africa is a vast continent with so many different cultures – and we are yet to see a World Cup in a Arab country.
Morocco is currently on a footballing high, after winning the latest edition of CHAN, qualifying for their first World Cup since 1998, on top of the fact Wydad Casablanca are the current club champions of Africa.
The US has already hosted, as well as Mexico – but Africa as a continent has hosted a World Cup more recently than North America.
If Qatar is stripped of hosting the World Cup in 2022, Morocco would be the first Muslim country to host a World Cup – a fact that further demonstrates that the world’s game is for people of all creeds and religions.
CONCACAF, the OFC, and CONMEBOL have already lent their support to the Pan-American bid – and this makes sense, due to the three confederations’ (rough) proximity to the three countries.
For Morocco, CAF is unsurprisingly behind the bid, but the only non-African supporter so far is Qatar, the current future hosts of the 2022 World Cup.
There is huge controversy surrounding Qatar’s hosting rights and it could be that the Middle Eastern country is stripped of the World Cup in the coming years, so their public support might not be seen in the best light by other countries.
Under strict instruction from FIFA General Secretary Fatma Samoura, no Confederation nor member nation can publically lend their support to a bid from this stage onwards – meaning CAF leader Ahmad Ahmad, could not publically comment on the bid after CAF’s congress this week.
FIFA President Gianni Infantino has commented positively regarding both campaigns, but as of yet, has not publicly supported either bid.
The neutral approach to the election is part of FIFA’s bid to make the process as transparent as possible.