World Cup 2026 bid campaign: While Morocco fumes, support grows

Underdog Morocco continues to rack up support in its bid to win the hosting rights to the 2026 World Cup, but at the same time it has been fuming over bid rules that it fears will disqualify it even before the FIFA Congress votes on June 13 in Moscow.

The latest statement of support came from French soccer federation (FFF) president Noel Le Graet, who in an interview with Paris sports daily L'Equipe on Thursday said he is supporting Morocco:

"I don't see how I cannot vote for a country near us. Africa has only had one World Cup in its history. That's not a lot. Morocco is ready even if it doesn't have the means of its rivals. France has only one vote but perhaps it will be a boost for Europe to choose Morocco."

In different circumstances, the late vote of Frenchman Michel Platini, then president of UEFA, for Qatar swung the 2022 World Cup bid campaign against the USA when the vote was done by the smaller FIFA executive committee in 2010. Le Graet, who in the L'Equipe interview said he is battling leukemia, is not a member of the FIFA Council, but the FFF is a powerful UEFA federation. It has close ties to MLS (academy licensing course) and U.S. Soccer (via Nike). A France-USA friendly is scheduled for Lyon on June 9, four days before the scheduled FIFA vote.

That two small Caribbean nations, Dominica and St. Lucia, came out in support for Morocco -- government officials, not soccer federation presidents, it should be noted -- raised lots of eyebrows, though there have been tensions between Caribbean (CFU) members and Concacaf and its richest members, the United 2026 trio of the USA, Canada and Mexico, that have been exacerbated by the corruption scandals in the CFU and Concacaf.

It all dates back to the infamous 2011 CFU meeting at the Hyatt Regency hotel in Port-of-Spain, where FIFA presidential candidate Mohammed Bin Hammam spoke and brown envelopes containing $40,000 were handed out. In all, FIFA investigated 31 CFU officials, and 28 either received some warning, fine or ban or resigned, including Concacaf president Jack Warner. The fallout between Chuck Blazer, the Concacaf general secretary, and Warner started the unraveling of Concacaf and led to the numerous federal indictments that followed four years later.

The small CFU federations have been beholden on Concacaf, itself on the brink of collapse following indictments against Warner and his successors, Jeffrey Webb and Alfredo Hawit. Still, 15 of 17 English-speaking CFU members voted for American Sunil Gulati when he beat Mexican Justino Compean, 18-17, for his FIFA executive committee post in 2013. Dominica voted for Gulati; St. Lucia (and Barbados) backed Compean.

While Morocco continues to publicize expressions of support, Morocco federation (FRMF) president Fouzi Lekjaa has complained to FIFA about the scoring system -- rubric, if you will -- it will use to evaluate the technical merits of the bids.

The evaluation process is complicated and involves two steps: a five-person FIFA technical task force will visit the bidders in April and grade the bids. The FIFA Council (the expanded executive committee) then will make its recommendation to the 211-member FIFA Congress for a vote.

Morocco's great fear is that its bid will fail to make the grade and be disqualified before it even gets to the FIFA Council for a recommendation. Lekjaa complained Maroc 2026 received details of the scoring system on March 14, two days before its bid had to be submitted.

FIFA's response in a statement published by AP:

“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. Contrary to what the FRMF implies, the hosting requirements, which were clearly set in the bidding registration and other bidding/hosting documents provided in 2017, have not changed. The scoring system merely provides a methodology for evaluating and documenting the extent to which the bids submitted fulfill those requirements in certain key areas.”

1 comment about "World Cup 2026 bid campaign: While Morocco fumes, support grows".
  1. Bob Ashpole, April 6, 2018 at 10:57 p.m.

    At least there has been progress in one respect. Qatar submitted a bid for, and FIFA awarded Qatar, an event it could not host. Now bids are being reviewed to weed out the obviously non-compliant offers.

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