Morocco avoids elimination as FIFA Task Force progresses both 2026 World Cup bids
FIFA's Evaluation Task Force has put both the Moroccan and joint North American bids for the 2026 World Cup forward for approval by the Council prior to the Congress in Moscow on June 13, despite labelling the North African attempt as high-risk in three key areas.
The panel, which inspected the two bids, gave the green light to Morocco 2026 and United 2026 in their final reports published today.
FIFA's ruling Council will have to officially approve the bids at a meeting on June 10 for them to be on the ballot paper but this is considered a formality.
Morocco 2026 scored just over the required two out of five to progress to the vote at FIFA's Congress as the Task Force gave them 2.7.
This was significantly lower than the four out of five score given to the United 2026 bid.
FIFA inspectors branded the Moroccan bid as high risk in three crucial areas - stadiums, accommodation and transport - while no areas of the joint bid from the United States, Canada and Mexico were cited as high-risk by the Task Force.
"The Morocco 2026 bid and United 2026 bid represent two almost opposite ends of the spectrum when it comes to the nature of their bids," the Task Force report states.
The panel deemed the North American candidacy's Government support to be a greater risk than Morocco 2026, however, owing to the increasing concerns over the impact of controversial US President Donald Trump.
It was widely expected that the joint North American effort would progress but there had been suggestions FIFA and its President Gianni Infantino were pressuring the Task Force to eliminate the Moroccan candidacy.
Speculation had grown that Morocco had been excluded from the race, which would have paved the way for the US, Canada and Mexico to be awarded the 2026 tournament in the Russian capital, prior to the release of the Task Force report.
While Morocco 2026's effort passed the evaluation, the report from the group - who had the power to exclude either candidate from the race if they failed to meet their requirements - was highly critical of their bid.
"The amount of new infrastructure required for the Morocco 2026 bid to become reality cannot be overstated," the executive summary of the report reads.
"While this is covered in the report in regard to the bid's individual components, the Evaluation Task Force considers it its duty to emphasise the significant overall risk, on a compounded basis, of a bid that has so many facilities (from stadiums and training sites to major transport infrastructure and accommodation projects) that would need to be built or completely renovated."
Organising costs was the only area where Morocco 2026 scored higher than United 2026, whose bid was deemed better in almost every department.
A statement from Morocco 2026 claimed the decision of the Task Force "confirms the quality of the Moroccan bid book" despite the risks found by the evaluation panel.
The 2026 World Cup race so far has been riddled with claims that Infantino and FIFA had been trying to undermine the Moroccan candidacy.
It has been suggested that world football's governing body are in favour of the United 2026 bid landing the hosting rights due to the higher revenue a tournament in the region would generate.
The Bid Committee claimed last month that a World Cup in North America would produce profits of nearly $11 billion (£8.3 billion/€9.5 billion) for FIFA.
The inspectors gave United 2026 4.9 and five out of five for their media and marketing and ticketing and hospitality plans, which came under the commercial strand of their requirements.
The report also highlighted the "significantly higher" revenues promised by United 2026 compared with Morocco 2026.
The findings of the five-member Task Force, which included FIFA deputy secretary generals Zvonomir Boban and Marco Villiger, can be ignored by the 207 Member Associations who will cast their vote for their preferred 2026 World Cup host at the Congress.
Russia and Qatar were deemed to be the greatest risk of the 2018 and 2022 candidates but both countries were successful with their bids.
"Under the High Guidance of His Majesty King Mohammed VI, we, as Moroccans, are all excited to qualify for this next stage of the process and be declared fit to organise the FIFA World Cup," Morocco 2026 President Moulay Hafid Elalamy said.
"We will now continue to present to voters our vision for Morocco 2026, and will aim to convince the majority of Member Associations to vote for our nation at FIFA Congress on June 13."
See attached FIFA full report