Morocco ‘has all the chances’ as it steps up bid for 2026 World Cup

Morocco has pushed its bid to host the 2026 World Cup in the name of Africa. (AP)
Updated 19 March 2018
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Morocco ‘has all the chances’ as it steps up bid for 2026 World Cup

CASABLANCA: Morocco has pushed its bid to host the 2026 World Cup in the name of Africa despite tough competition from a joint effort by the US, Canada and Mexico.
Two days after officially submitting Morocco’s bid book to FIFA, the head of the bid committee Moulay Hafid Elalamy outlined to the press the country’s readiness and determination to host the game.
“The dice has not been cast ... Morocco has all the chances,” he said.
The North African kingdom has pre-selected 12 cities to host the competition and is proposing 14 stadiums. Casablanca, the economic hub of Morocco, and Marrakesh, its tourist capital, will each have two stadiums, while the others will be spread around the country.
The largest stadium will be in Tangiers and have a 93,000-seat capacity.
The “pillars” of the Moroccan bid are the “time zones,” which are in GMT, that will allow many fans in the regions providing most teams to the contest to watch the games in real time, said Elalamy, who is also Morocco’s minister of industry. He also noted that Morocco offers visa-free entrance to citizens of 70 countries and that the distances between stadiums is relatively short, allowing fans
to move freely from one to
the other.
Morocco is passionate about football and considers the 2026 World Cup a “national cause.”
An IPSOS survey requested by the Bidding Morocco 2026 committee showed that 97 percent of Moroccans back their country’s bid and 84 percent of them are very interested in football.
“For us football is everywhere, in the countryside, in the cities, with a ball, a piece of cloth,” said Elalamy. Morocco has previously bid for the World Cup in 1994, 1998 and in 2006.
The united US/Canada/Mexico bid has been seen as the front-runner for the expanded 48-team tournament. But anxiety has flickered over the possibility that comments from US President Donald Trump could hurt the bid.
Trump triggered an outcry in January after referring to “s******e countries” when discussing a deal which related to immigrants from Haiti and several African nations.
rAfrican votes will account for a substantial bloc in the June 13 election in Moscow which will decide the 2026 hosts.


Indian sprinter blasts ‘wrong’ testosterone ruling

Updated 14 min 39 sec ago
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Indian sprinter blasts ‘wrong’ testosterone ruling

  • Chand won a court battle for her right to compete with a hormonal imbalance
  • 'I have offered Semenya my legal team if she needs.'

NEW DELHI: Indian sprinter Dutee Chand said track and field’s new rules on women’s testosterone levels were “wrong” and offered legal help to Olympic champion Caster Semenya to help her fight back.
Chand, who won a court battle for her right to compete with a hormonal imbalance, said she was relieved to have avoided falling under the regulations, which only cover distances between 400m and one mile.
But she criticized this week’s International Association of Athletics Federations ruling, which has been interpreted as targeting Semenya, a middle-distance specialist.
“I am happy and relieved after four years of uncertainty but I feel for athletes like Semenya. I strongly believe the current rules are also wrong,” Chand told AFP by telephone from Hyderabad.
“I have offered Semenya my legal team if she needs. I have emailed her offering my support and help.”
South Africa’s Semenya has long attracted debate because of her powerful physique related to hyperandrogenism, the medical condition which causes women to produce high levels of male sex hormones.
The issue of hyperandrogenism is controversial because it pits principles of fair competition against the rights of women born with the condition.
The new rules say that women with high levels of naturally occurring testosterone can only compete if they take medication to reduce them.
The ruling covers events from 400m to the mile because the IAAF’s medical and science department says it has data showing an advantage for hyperandrogenous athletes over such distances.
But South Africa’s ruling African National Congress (ANC) has blasted the new regulations as unjust and racist and urged the Pretoria government to challenge them in the Court of Arbitration for Sport.
Semenya, 27, is the reigning world and Olympic champion over 800m and won the 800-1,500m double at this month’s Commonwealth Games.
Chand, who competes in the 100m and 200m, took her case to the CAS after she was barred from the 2014 Commonwealth Games by the Athletics Federation of India over her hyperandrogenism.
Now cleared for competition, the 22-year-old is keen to make up for lost time at the upcoming Asian Games in Indonesia and the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo.
“I lost crucial years of my career when I could not focus on my training and initially (in 2014) lost six months which is a significant time in a sportsperson’s life,” said Chand.
“I missed three big competitions like the Asian Games, Commonwealth Games and the junior World Athletics Championships when I was just 18 and raring to make a mark.
“A medal in the Olympics is what I dream of. Also I missed participating in Commonwealth Games, so will target the 2022 edition in Birmingham.”