Morocco and the United States-Canada-Mexico combo are the first to have shown interest for the first world cup after the FIFA scandal.
The date has been marked in red by the leaders of the international football federation (FIFA). On 13 June, on the eve of the opening of the World Cup in Russia, FIFA will indicate the host for the 2026 World cup. It went badly the last time: the selection for the hosts for the 2018 and 2022 editions is at the heart of the scandals that rocked the moments. The double choice of Russia and Qatar is riddled with suspicions of corruption, like it became the norm: the selection for the 1998, 2006, 2010, 2018 and 2022 editions became a case of investigations for the American, Swiss, German and French authorities.
Before being forced to leave by the FIFA presidency, the Swiss Sepp Blatter really rocked the operation, right from 2011. It was no longer the FIFA authority, in the midst of all these scandals, who chooses the host for the World cup, but 211 countries which are members of the body.
The vote of the congress, in Moscow, becomes therefore of capital importance for the diplomats of the round ball, which will have to decide between two choices which all opposes: the trio composed of the United States, Mexico and Canada is a favourite against Morocco, which dream of becoming the second African country to host the tournament after South Africa (in 2010) and was beaten four times in the selection for the 1994, 1998, 2006 and 2010 World Cups. On betting websites as Ladbrokes, you can even bet on the country to host the 2026 Fifa World Cup.
The two applicants had until Friday, March 16th to file their organization file, which will be examined by the “evaluation task force”. Who will in turn deliver their evaluations to the FIFA board, which will validate or not the applicants.
A Mexico-USA combo, despite Trump
Big losers of the vote in 2010 against Qatar (by 14 votes against 8), the United States have lived this setback as a “backward step”, as recognized by Sunil Gulati, architect of the North American candidature and who just resigned from the presidency of his committee. The ballot for the 2026 World cup has thus the tunes of revenge, even if the project is different.
The joint bid is considered a handicap by the former president Sepp Blatter, partisan” by principle” of the Moroccan project, taking into account “the very difficult joint organization of the 2002 World cup by South Korea and Japan”.
The triple organization, argues Sunil Gulati, however would facilitate the organization of an expanded tournament: the World Cup will for the first time bring together 48 teams – against 32 today – who will compete in 80 games (against 64). The FIFA table has an increase in the turnover of 600 million euros thanks to this expanded format desired by its President, Gianni Infantino.
It also is a major change for the betting industry, as mentioned by the specialized website wearebettors.com. This industry, which is one of the most powerful, will have to adapt to this new format. Whether it is the bookmakers or the players, those changes have to be taken into account by everybody and reshape itself according to FIFA’s decision.
“This historic collaboration between three countries means that we can meet the new requirements of this new format and even do better, and thus help FIFA to take advantage of these new opportunities with a low operational risk, assured Mr. Gulati, always a member of the FIFA government. The infrastructures that we have in place already are the basis. North America houses the largest, the most environmentally-friendly and most technologically advanced stadia in the world. “
To convince the voters, Mr. Gulati recalls the “Thirteen FIFA competitions” already organized by the North American trio and the legacy of the 1994 World cup in the USA. On a geopolitical plan, the conflictual relations between Washington and Mexico and the imposing character of the American president, Donald Trump, do they not risk deterring some countries to vote for the trio? “I am confident in the fact that the voters will decide on the basis of the merits of our candidature and not on the basis of the policy of the time,” said Sunil Gulati. However, many aficionados regret that there isn’t any serious Hispanic candidate. Spain, with major clubs such as R. Madrid, At Madrid or Barcelona and a strong national team didn’t even think about organize the 2026 World Cup.
France will support Morocco
A vast majority of European countries are more attracted to the Moroccan candidature, which wants it to be that of a continent and will be supported by the Confederation of African Football. The president of the French Football Federation, Noël Le Graët, will vote in favour of Morocco for historical, political and economic reasons.
“We have a country on a human scale, an hour of flight time separates the most distant stadia, there is only a single time zone for the whole territory and we have an excellent road network and airport”, explains Moulay Hafid Elalamy, President of the bid committee and the Minister of Industry of Morocco.
“The stadium plan incorporates five existing buildings that will be upgraded, as well as three ultra-modern stadia planned, such as the Grand Stade de Casablanca with its 93,000 seats,” adds the boss of the Moroccan bid. For the six additional stadia required by FIFA, the Kingdom would emphasize the “revolutionary concept of modular stadium”, whose size can be reduced after the competition. The only World Cup in the history of the continent has left too large a legacy to South Africa, unused, and whose costs of maintenance largely exceed the revenues.