Morocco to spend $16bn for 2026 World Cup venue on infrastructure

File Photo showing a match final between Wydad Casablanca vs Al Ahly Egypt playinhg at Mohammed V Stadium, Casablanca, Nov 4, 2017. (Reuters)
Updated 17 March 2018
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Morocco to spend $16bn for 2026 World Cup venue on infrastructure

RABAT: Morocco says it will need to spend almost $16 billion to prepare to host the 2026 World Cup, with every proposed stadium and training ground built from scratch or renovated.
With less than three months until the FIFA vote, the north African nation on Saturday presented details of its proposal to take on the joint bid from the United States, Canada and Mexico.
The North American bid plans to rely on existing infrastructure, including large NFL stadiums already hosting events.
When FIFA insiders score the bids, infrastructure — of which half relates to stadiums — will account for 70 percent of the panel’s mark. The remaining 30 percent is based on projected costs and revenues. A high-risk bid can be disqualified before the FIFA Congress votes on June 13.
Morocco says for $3 billion it can build nine stadiums, refurbish five others and build or renovate 130 training grounds.
That is part of the $12.6 billion in public investment that also requires hospital services being upgraded in 20 cities and transport networks improved for the first 48-team World Cup.
The bid says another $3.2 billion of private investment is required to build hotels.
Morocco’s bid team told The Associated Press that the projections had been “carefully costed” but could not provide a breakdown on how the figures were reached.


Pakistan’s Azhar Ali signs for Somerset

Pakistan's Azhar Ali celebrates reaching his century during a match between England and Pakistant on August 4, 2016. (Reuters file)
Updated 34 min 56 sec ago
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Pakistan’s Azhar Ali signs for Somerset

  • Azhar is set to make his Somerset debut against Worcestershire later this month

LONDON: Pakistan batsman Azhar Ali has joined Somerset for the remainder of their first-class English County Championship fixtures this season, the southwest club said Monday.

The 33-year-old replaces Australia opener Matt Renshaw, who made three hundreds at 51.30 in the opening rounds of the Championship before breaking a finger against Surrey at Guildford last month.

Azhar is set to make his Somerset debut against Worcestershire later this month.

"The standard of first-class cricket in England is very high and I hope that I can make a contribution to Somerset winning matches," Azhar told his new county's website.

"I have heard good things about Somerset and I was impressed by what I saw at Taunton in 2016 (when Pakistan opened their tour of England that year against the county).

"I am looking forward to joining my new team mates and meeting the Somerset supporters soon."

Azhar struggled during Pakistan's three Tests against Ireland and England earlier this season, making 73 runs in six innings although his lone fifty did come during Pakistan's impressive victory over England at Lord's.

"Finding the right fit at short notice can be challenging, however we are delighted to have secured a player of Azhar Ali's character, pedigree and class for the remaining seven Specsavers County Championship matches," said Somerset's director of cricket, Andy Hurry.

"His experience at the top of the order will prove to be hugely valuable at the business end of the season.

"I have spoken to him several times over the last few weeks and he is very keen to share his knowledge of the game with our aspirational players, so the influence he can have within the changing room will also be vital for us as a club."