Morocco will be hoping to upset the odds and bag hosting rights for the 2026 World Cup when voting takes place at the FIFA Congress.
The World Cup looks set to head to North America for the fourth time as the joint bid by Mexico, US and Canada is favourite to succeed Qatar as hosts for the tournament, the first time 48 teams will be taking part, at the voting that takes place on Wednesday.
The Dutch Football Federation (KNVB) came out in support for the Morocco bid while the campaign is confident that the federations from Guam, American Samoa, the US Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico will not be allowed to vote given they are US territories.
The North American bid began the campaign as strong favourites but Morocco has enjoyed some success over recent months and the result could be closer than anticipated.
But while FIFA politics has a habit of throwing up surprises, the promise of a handsome profit from games played at large capacity, already existing stadiums across North America is likely to sway enough voters.
US Soccer President Carlos Cordeiro has said his bid would generate $14bn in revenue and make an $11bn profit for FIFA. The bid also expects record ticket and hospitality revenue.
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This is the fifth time Morocco has bid for the hosting rights to the football World Cup, calling it “the dream of a nation” while hoping FIFA members will share that dream.
Meanwhile, the US hosted the World Cup previously in 1994 while Mexico hosted it in 1970 and 1986. Canada has never hosted a men’s World Cup but held the women’s tournament in 2015.
Under FIFA’s new system for choosing the host nation for the lucrative tournament, all eligible football federations who attend congress will be given a vote.
Although it would be the first tournament to be hosted by three nations, the vast majority of games will be held in the US.
“We can focus on the game. We are ready made. Our cities are ready to host today,” said John Kristick, Executive Director United 2026.
United 2026: US, Canada and Mexico’s World Cup bid
Al Jazeera’s Gabriel Elizondo, reporting from New York, said “while the official name of the bid is United 2026, the three potential host nations are right now anything but united”.
“US President Donald Trump has disparaged Mexicans and wants to build a wall along the US-Mexico border. And the US-Canadian relationship right now is rocky – with both sides threatening a trade war,” he said.
Trump has also backed the tri-nation bid and his administration has given guarantees about trade, tax and other requirements demanded by FIFA.
In April, Trump caused controversy with a tweet that some interpreted as a threat. “It would be a shame if countries that we always support were to lobby against the U.S. bid. Why should we be supporting these countries when they don’t support us (including at the United Nations)?” he wrote.
The Morocco bid has focused on the country’s proximity to Europe which they say brings benefits in terms of fan access and time slots for European broadcasters.
Africa has only once hosted the tournament, in 2010 when the World Cup was played in South Africa.
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SOURCE: Al Jazeera and news agencies