By Andrew Warshaw
January 23 – With precision timing just as their only rivals were holding a media briefing in London, Morocco kickstarted their own 2026 World Cup bid campaign by focusing on legacy and making it clear they would be fighting all the way to the vote in mid-June.
As the US-led three-nation bid team wooed the British media at a central London hotel, so Moroccan bid chief Moulay Hafid Elalamy made his first public appearance at a counter press conference in Casablanca a few weeks after the north African nation officially entered the fray.
Elalamy was joined by the President of the Royal Moroccan Football Federation (FRMF), Fouzi Lekjaa, and the Minister of Youth and Sports, Rachid Talbi Alami, as he formally unveiled the bid logo.
Whether underdogs Morocco can rival the US/Canada/Mexico bid in terms of finding sufficient infrastructure to cope with 48 teams, or match their rivals when it comes to commercial revenue, is very much open to question. But having failed with four previous bids and with global perception of the United States under Donald Trump leaving much to be desired, Elalamy and his team are likely to attract a number of sympathetic ears among the 200-plus FIFA federations as they try to post a significant upset though not quite on the scale of Qatar’s 2022 triumph.
Elalamy confirmed that the Bid Committee was in discussions with likely host cities and that a shortlist of potential venues would be announced in due course with a final list being submitted to FIFA in mid-March.
“Morocco 2026 will showcase the best of football, at the heart of the world in the dynamic continent of Africa,” said Elalamy who will be supported by former Confederation of African Football secretary-general Hicham El Amrani as the bid’s chief executive. “We are ready to welcome the world and it is our promise to stage a tournament overflowing with real passion and to celebrate the game’s values of unity, peace and integrity.
“A FIFA World Cup in Morocco will deliver commercial success and leave a long-lasting legacy and if we win the honour of hosting then we believe the winners will be football, the young people of our nation, Africa and the world.”
The next stage of the bidding process is the submission of bid books on 16 March, with final decision is made by FIFA on June 13. Both bids teams will move into overdrive in the final weeks of campaigning and Lekjaa said more details of the Moroccan bid would be revealed soon.
He also shrugged off the country’s underdogs status. “We may surprise many people with our strong infrastructure and commercial offering, and we will highlight our wonderful welcome, host cities and stunning locations. It promises to be a truly special bid.”
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