(WFI) The football world may know by May 29 whether the 2026 World Cup is hosted by either a joint North American candidacy or Morocco.
FIFA will apparently reveal on that day whether both candidacies have passed the recent tests they endured from the body’s Evaluation Task Force and can progress to the voting stage.
The vote to determine the 2026 host is schedule for June 13 at next FIFA’s Congress in Moscow the day before the opening match of the 2018 World Cup between hosts Russia and Saudi Arabia .
But at this point it is unknown whether both bidders, especially Morocco, will make it to the finish line.
The Task Force inspected the two candidacies for the World Cup and determined that a second visit had to be conducted to Morocco as the inspectors “noticed some deviations from the initial planned program” during the first trip to the African country.
On the contrary, FIFA did not deem it necessary to engage in a second inspection of the joint bid from the United States, Canada and Mexico. FIFA will rate bids on a scale of zero to five on issues from stadiums and hotels to infrastructure. To pass, no scores must be lower than two.
“The Task Force charged by FIFA to evaluate both the North American and Moroccan 2026 FIFA World Cup bids will make its verdict on the eligibility of both files to progress to FIFA Congress on 29 May,” Morocco 2026 announced on Twitter. FIFA however has not made an official announcement.
In many circles it is believed that FIFA President Gianni Infantino favors the North American candidacy in part due to the financial gains a United World Cup would generate. The U.S has announced that a North American 2026 World Cup would produce net profits for FIFA of $11 billion.
A World Cup in North Africa will generate revenues of $7.2 billion and profits for FIFA of $5 billion, claims Morocco.
On the diplomatic front, the Moroccan bid has repeatedly clashed with FIFA starting from claims made by the North Africans that the evaluation test set by football’s body was changed at the last minute in an attempt to undermine their efforts.
Then Morocco’s bid was put into question when FIFA’S secretary general Fatma Samoura was investigated for a possible family link with El Hadji Diouf, a Morocco 2026 ambassador. The claim was false and she was cleared of any wrongdoing.
In the latest clash, FIFA decided to dismiss a request from Morocco that four U.S. territories with their own independent right to vote – American Samoa, Guam, Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands – be prevented from participating in the June ballot.
Formerly it was only FIFA’s executive committee who voted, but now the 211 member federations – minus the four bidding countries and the suspended Guatemala – can cast a vote in an open session.
If both bidders were to advance to the June 13 election, it would be hard to predict a winner. The Moroccans have strong support from all over the world including European countries Belgium, France, Luxemburg, Serbia and Russia.
In Africa, Morocco is expected to receive the backing of most of the 53 eligible members with Algeria, Angola, Gambia, Kenya, Nigeria, and Tunisia already publicly announcing their support. South Africa, though, despite becoming the first African country to host the World Cup in 2010, is expected to break ranks and vote for the rival North American bid in what would be a blow to the African cause.
South Africa and Morocco have had strained relations since 2004 when South Africa recognized the independence of the Western Sahara, a former Spanish colony annexed by Morocco in 1975.
Surprisingly, some Caribbean nations such as Dominica and St. Lucia have hinted their support for Morocco and the vote among the 11 members of Oceania is equally split.
On the other hand, the United 2026 has the backing of all the South American nations and most of Concacaf’s.
With a decision likely to be far closer than expected, Middle East votes could prove crucial. Egypt, Lebanon and Palestine favor Morocco while Saudi Arabia is supporting United 2026.
Homepage photo: FIFA
By INSIDER Javier Monne
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