KEIR RADNEDGE REPORTS: The guessing game will be over on May 29 as far as the next important step in the 2026 World Cup bid battle is concerned.
That is the day, at least according to Morocco bid organisers though FIFA would not confirm, when the controversial evaluation task force created by world football federation FIFA delivers its verdict on the proposals from the north Africans and their cohost rival United 2026 from the United States with subsidiaries Canada and Mexico.
The Moroccans set up expectations with a Twitter statement that: “The Task Force charged by @FIFAcom to evaluate both the North American and Moroccan 2026 @FIFAWorldCup Bids will make its verdict on the eligibility of both files to progress to FIFA Congress on 29 May.”
Morocco has complained long and loud about what its officials perceive to be a FIFA-centred bias towards their rival. The aim has been to embarrass the five-man evaluation task force into clearing the bid for the decisive vote in congress in Moscow on June 13.
The stark contrast between the two competing bidders to host the 2026 FIFA World Cup was set out by their presentations last week to the annual congress of international sports journalists’ association AIPS in Brussels.
United stated its commercial credentials by projecting that the North American bid would bring in a record $11bn profit to FIFA’s coffers while Morocco promoted a contrasting concept of a need for the world game to be seen encouraging emerging countries.
FIFA rebuilt the bidding process after the scandals surrounding the awards by the old executive committee in 2010 to Russia for 2018 and Qatar for 2022. Under the new system congress should vote on bids analysed by the task force and approved by the 36-strong FIFA Council.
However the Moroccans, supported by the African confederation and its president Ahmad, have complained that FIFA appeared to have been changing the rules along the way in an attempt to exclude their bid from consideration.
Calls for Morocco to be approved by the task force have been supported by German DFB president Reinhard Grindel, a European delegate to the FIFA Council.
Last month Grindel said: “If there are only two [candidates] then congress must have the chance to vote. We don’t need any rumours in such a process.
“I think the task force must give a very clear report and must give all the (voters) a clear statement which bid is perhaps better. Otherwise each federation should have to explain why they are voting for a bidder who is not in the eyes of the experts able to host such a World Cup.”