Morocco 2026 World Cup bid in spotlight once again

Morocco was a late entry in the race to host the World Cup in 2026
Updated 23 April 2018

Morocco 2026 World Cup bid in spotlight once again

  • FIFA delegation set to arrive in Morocco this week after initial task force found problems with the bid
  • Morocco up against a joint bid by US, Canada and Mexico

LONDON: Morocco’s World Cup bid is facing fresh scrutiny this week with the arrival of another delegation from FIFA after an initial task force found deficiencies in the proposals for the 2026 tournament.
In a downbeat conclusion to the visit by the FIFA inspectors last week, Morocco’s bid leader acknowledged it had to improve the quality of the submission made to FIFA in March because inadequacies were identified by football’s governing body.
The previously unplanned second inspection of Morocco is an indication of the more rigorous process introduced by FIFA following criticism in 2010 that World Cups were awarded to the riskiest nations in 2018 (Russia) and 2022 (Qatar).
There will also be closer scrutiny of human rights of the bidders before the vote on June 13 when Morocco is currently due to be taking on a joint challenge from the US, Canada and Mexico.
The Associated Press revealed last week Morocco did not declare its anti-LGBT law to FIFA in the human rights risk assessment included in the bid book. The documents — along with the North American submission — will now be scrutinized for any gaps by human rights experts.
“That process involves an expert third-party assessment of the robustness of the human rights content of both bids that will directly inform the administration’s own evaluation,” Rachel Davis, who sits on FIFA’s human rights advisory board, told the AP.
“We are confident that the process will result in a fair assessment of the human rights situation in all four countries involved in the bids, and a roadmap for how to deal with any deficiencies that FIFA will then require the successful bidder to commit to.”
Davis, who is managing director of the Shift human rights organization, said an evaluation of the human rights in the bidding nations will be included in a report to the FIFA Council, which will also assess the verdict of the evaluation task force. A bid with low scores can be blocked by the council from advancing to a vote of up to 207 football nations at the FIFA Congress on June 13.
While Morocco has said it needs to spend almost $16 billion on infrastructure for the 48-team World Cup, including building or renovating all 14 stadiums, North American does not require any tournament-specific building work. Morocco bid president Moulay Hafid Elalamy said at the end of the FIFA inspection that officials “made some remarks on the conditions of some of the stadiums.”
The new batch of technical staff being deployed from FIFA HQ to Morocco did not make a similar follow-up visit to North America after the task force inspected the rival bid’s facilities this month.
“Following the visit of the 2026 bid evaluation task force to Morocco last week, it was decided to have an additional working visit this week to complement the initial analysis of the task force and clarify some aspects of the bid,” FIFA told AP.

Good evening, Jeddah! A wave from Neymar for 60,000 Saudi fans

Brazilian footballer Neymar acknowledges cheers from Saudi spectators before the match between Brazil and Argentina at Jeddah’s King Abdullah Sports City. (Reuters)
Updated 17 October 2018

Good evening, Jeddah! A wave from Neymar for 60,000 Saudi fans

  • For many, watching Brazil play Argentina in the “Superclasico de las Americas” was the opportunity of a lifetime
  • I never imagined I would be watching Brazil vs. Argentina in my country: Saudi fan

JEDDAH: Lionel Messi was not there, but Neymar and his Brazilian superstars were — and more than 60,000 Saudi fans loved every minute of their feast of football on Tuesday night at King Abdullah Sports City in Jeddah.

For many, watching Brazil play Argentina in the “Superclasico de las Americas” was the opportunity of a lifetime. 

“I always had a dream to see South American teams abroad, but I never expected a Superclasico to come all the way to my hometown,” said Abdullah Sheikh, 25.

Female fans were full of praise for King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman for making this moment happen for them. “I am a football fanatic and was always jealous to see my brother going to football matches,” said Anoud Husseini. 

“After the ban was lifted this year, I went to Al-Ahli vs. Al-Batin, and now I’m at the Superclasico and watching my favorite superstars live. It’s a dream come true for me.”

Bayan Qutub, also from Jeddah, told Arab News: “I never imagined I would be watching Brazil vs. Argentina in my country. Although I am not a diehard football fan, witnessing two giants lock horns in my city is a big thing, and so far it is full of entertainment for me and my family.”

And the match? Brazil won 1-0 — but the real winners were those 60,000 ecstatic football fans.