By Andrew Warshaw
April 3 – Any attempt by Morocco to link up with Spain and Portugal in a bid to stage the 2026 World Cup seems destined to fall foul of FIFA’s strict hosting regulations.
For several weeks, speculation has been rife that Morocco, which has failed four times to try and land the tournament, is preparing to launch a challenge to CONCACAF in partnership with the Iberian neighbours who themselves failed to land 2018.
Morocco failed in 1994, 1998, 2006, and 2010, losing out to the United States, France, Germany, and South Africa respectively. No other nation has launched as many bids without ever gaining hosting rights and new African football leader Ahmad Ahmad says he would back a Moroccan bid for what will be the first World Cup to feature 48 teams.
Morocco’s hopes have been boosted, on paper at least, by FIFA president Gianni Infantino’s endorsement of multiple hosting. Infantino himself has stated that Morocco has the ‘infrastructure and organisational capacity’ to host the tournament.
But with whom? Under FIFA rules, the two previous host confederations – in this case Europe in 2018 and Asia in 2022 – are barred from bidding for 2026
Last October, the FIFA Council agreed to the “general principle that member associations from confederations of the last two hosts of the FIFA World Cup will be ineligible to host the 2026 FIFA World Cup.”
Hence the sense of bemusement in CONCACAF circles over persistent reports that Spain and Portugal are being lined up to bid alongside Morocco.
Only “in the event that none of the received bids fulfil the strict technical and financial requirements” would Europe be allowed to bid, according to FIFA rules. That seems unlikely if, as expected, the United States goes ahead, either with Mexico or Canada, or both.
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