Fifa responds to Morocco 2026 concerns

04 Apr 2018

Fifa has insisted that its bidding procedure for the 2026 World Cup has been designed to avoid costly ‘white elephants’ in host countries after Morocco, one of the two candidates for the tournament, questioned the process.

Morocco and its rival, a joint bid between the US, Canada and Mexico, will be scored from zero to five on various criteria. To be considered as a World Cup host, the bid must score an average of at least two out of five.

Fifa said: “In order to avoid unsustainable bids... with the creation of ‘white elephants’ – something Fifa has been heavily criticised for in the past – the scoring system evaluates with objective criteria how meaningful and sustainable is the infrastructure presented in the bids.

“As a matter of principle, the basis of the preparation of a bid should not be the scoring system for the technical evaluation but rather the requirements which Fifa has provided to the bidders in 2017 through the bidding and hosting requirements.”

Morocco 2026 last month outlined plans for $15.8bn in infrastructure spending should it succeed in landing the World Cup, with substantial investment in new or redeveloped stadia part of the bid plan for the national team football tournament. The Morocco 2026 World Cup Bid Committee unveiled 12 proposed cities and 14 stadia as part of its plans for the event.

Morocco 2026’s proposed stadia include five existing venues in Marrakech (95,565), Agadir (46,048), Fez (46,092), Rabat (46,500) and Tangier (65,000) that will undergo renovation and expansion to meet Fifa requirements.

Three brand new stadia are planned including the 93,000-capacity National Stadium in Casablanca that will be the future home to the national team and host the opening match and final of the World Cup. New stadia with capacities of 45,600 apiece would also be developed in Oujda and Tetouan.

Morocco 2026 has also outlined plans for six Legacy Modular Stadiums (LMS) with capacities of around 46,000 in Casablanca, Marrakech, El Jadida, Meknes, Nador and Ouarzazate.

Fifa added that, contrary to the suggestions of the FRMF, the sport’s governing body in Morocco, the hosting requirements, “which were clearly set” in the bidding registration and other bidding and hosting documents provided last year, “have not changed”. Fifa continued: “The scoring system merely provides a methodology for evaluating and documenting the extent to which the bids submitted fulfil those requirements in certain key areas.”

Late last month, Fifa was forced to reiterate president Gianni Infantino’s impartiality in the bidding process following unconfirmed reports that he favours the North American joint bid.