Morocco’s football federation (FRMF) on Friday beat a last minute deadline in their quest to bid for the 2026 World Cup.
The announcement came in Rabat amid jubilation from football stake holders that it had told the sport’s world governing body FIFA it will bid to host the 2026 World Cup.
If successful, Morocco would become only the second African country to host football’s greatest show case event following the success of South Africa in 2010.
CAF president Ahmad Ahmad, said he was “convinced” the country is ready to host a World Cup and expressed optimism for a second world cup to be show cased in Africa,
“This is great news especially to us Africans. With great support from all stake holders, I am convinced that Morocco will do it and make us proud the way South Africans did in 2010,” an excited Ahmad said.
In its fifth attempt to try and host the world cup, Morocco’s announcement came on FIFA’s deadline day on Friday where the federation formally launched its bid and sent relevant documents to FIFA, the Royal Moroccan Football Federation said in a brief two-sentence statement.
This last-minute move will therefore challenge the joint bid between North Ameficans United States of America and Canada, and Mexico from South America.
Morocco had won the right to host the 2015 Africa Cup of Nations but pulled out at the 11th hour over concerns related to the Ebola outbreak in western Africa at the time.
The country later embarked on a professionalisation drive to improve its football infrastructure and also increasing its candidacies for various tournaments in order to improve its chances of landing the much coveted World Cup.
The United States, Canada, and Mexico launched their joint bid earlier on in April and hoped to be awarded the World Cup unchallenged, with no other bids seemingly on the horizon. But FIFA decided to keep the contest open, and Morocco has just made the deadline at the last minute.
The 2026 World Cup is open to bids only from the Americas, Africa, and Oceania. Europe and Asia were ineligible because those continents will host the next two World Cups, in Russia in 2018 and in Qatar in 2022.
The US-Canada-Mexico and Morocco bids are the only two for 2026, FIFA confirmed, and the world body could decide on the 2026 host as early as June 13 next year at its congress in Moscow on the eve of Russia’s World Cup.
The 2026 tournament will be the first with an expanded 48-team tournament, up from the current 32 qualifiers. This will be Morocco’s fifth candidacy having come up short already in 1994, 1998, 2006 and 2010.