KEIR RADNEDGE REPORTING —- Morocco has formally notified football’s world governing body FIFA that it will bid – yet again – to host the 2026 World Cup finals.

The Moroccans have come come up short on four previous occasions in bids for 1994, 1998, 2006 and 2010.

However this bid will be a rank outsider with a co-hosting proposal from  the United States, Canada and Mexico being the odds-on favourite.

The World Cup . . .focus of football attention

If successful, Morocco would become only the second African nation to host football’s flagship event following South Africa in 2010. But quite how the country believes it can cope – in terms of infrastucture – with the expanded 48-team tournament remains to be explained.

A decision will be taken by FIFA congress under a reformed selection system in 2020.

The North African country has received backing from the Confederation of African Football president Ahmad Ahmad, who said he was “convinced” the country is ready to host a World Cup.

However the greater likelihood is that Morocco is looking to advance a claim for a consolation prize of the 2018 African Nations Cup in place of Cameroon whose staging prospects are looking more and more fragile.

Morocco previously won the right to host the 2015 Africa Cup of Nations but pulled out over concerns related to the ebola outbreak in western Africa at the time.

FIFA statement of process:

FIFA, confirming receipt of the Moroccan expression of interest, issued the following statement about the process:

On 11 May 2017, the 67th FIFA Congress approved a timeline for the next steps of the bidding process that will select the host(s) of the 2026 FIFA World Cup. According to the approved motion, member associations from CAF, CONCACAF, CONMEBOL and the OFC had three months – until 11 August 2017 – to express their interest in hosting the tournament.

Before the passing of the above deadline, FIFA received:

  • a joint expression of interest submitted by the Canadian Soccer Association, the Mexican Football Association and the United States Soccer Federation
  • an expression of interest submitted by the Moroccan Football Association

The interested member associations will now move on to officially register their bids and agree to the terms and conditions of the enhanced bidding process that will select the venue of the first FIFA World Cup to be played with 48 teams. The next steps in this process are:

  • FIFA to issue the bidding registration documents for the member associations to fill in
  • FIFA to issue bidding documents so that the member associations may commence their preparations
  • Member associations to submit their bid book to FIFA by March 2018
  • FIFA to carry out an evaluation process, which will result in a report
  • Based on this report, the FIFA Council to designate the bids to be submitted to the FIFA Congress for a final decision

Finally, the decision on whether to select one of the above bidders to host the 2026 FIFA World Cup will be taken by the 68th FIFA Congress, which will convene in Moscow on 13 June next year, on the eve of the opening match of the 2018 FIFA World Cup.