Is FIFA Seeking to Block Morocco’s 2026 bid?
A senior official said that FIFA president Gianni Infantino is encouraging FIFA task force to block Morocco’s bid to host the 2026 World Cup, the BBC reported.
“It is claimed Infantino was motivated to do this as he favors the rival North American bid given the enormous financial advantage it has over its African rival,” the official, whose identity was not disclosed told the BBC.
The news comes amid Morocco’s suspicions over the impartiality of FIFA task force, which has conducted a visit recently to the African country where it deemed that stadiums need to be upgraded.
Morocco protested the last minute change in hosting criteria by the task force concerning airports and city sizes, which may compromise Morocco’s candidacy.
In response to the allegation, a FIFA spokesperson told BBC Sport: “The bidding process for the 2026 FIFA World Cup has been designed to evaluate the bids against objective criteria and so avoid a return to the secret and subjective decisions of the past”.
However if FIFA decides to eliminate Morocco’s candidacy prior to the voting date on June 13, Morocco will have to resort to international arbitration.
This may put Infantino under an ethics investigation concerning the allegation he attempted to interfere in the 2026 bidding process.
The German newspaper Die Welt revealed in a recent story FIFA’s attempts to sabotage the Moroccan bid, noting that the FIFA added a new condition, requiring Morocco to have six operational stadiums, while the country has only five (Marrakech, Agadir, Rabat, Tangier and Fez).
The German daily has described the new condition imposed by the international football governing body as “dirty game of FIFA”, in reference to this maneuver that aims to defeat Morocco’s candidacy, noting that Morocco’s case poses “real problems” to Gianni Infantino and his team.
The paper advised the kingdom to refer to the Court of Arbitration for sport (CAS) immediately to put pressure on FIFA and force it to adopt an impartial attitude.
Relatedly, the executive director of the German Football Association, Reinhard Grindel, believes that the Moroccan candidacy deserves to reach the final vote.
“Morocco must come to the vote of 13 June for the organization of the 2026 World Cup,” Reinhard Grindel, who is also a member of the FIFA Executive Board, said in a statement to Associated Press.
Reinhard Grindel noted that “FIFA does not need rumors in such a process, especially if ever one of the bidders is disqualified before the vote”. He said both candidates must present their case to the FIFA Congress on 13 June. Then, all voters must justify their choice and explain the rationale behind their decision.
Even the US ESPN claimed that FIFA favors the joint USA-Canada-Mexico bid.
Meanwhile, Moroccan delegations are visiting world capitals to promote the Moroccan bid.
So far, the bulk of Africa and the Arab and Muslim world promised to vote for Morocco along with European heavy weights such as France, Spain, Belgium and Russia.
Morocco is making its fifth bid to host the tournament.