Sun, Apr 22, 2018 - Page 11 News List

FIFA queries Morocco’s World Cup bid for 2026

AP, CASABLANCA, Morocco

FIFA’s inspection of Morocco’s 2026 World Cup plans ended with questions about the quality of stadiums and a demand for more details from the bid ahead of a second unexpected examination of infrastructure.

Bid president Moulay Hafid Elalamy on Friday acknowledged that Morocco still has to “improve the quality of our bid book,” which was initially submitted to FIFA a month ago ahead of the June vote against the North American entry.

A task force deployed from FIFA HQ in Zurich spent three days surveying stadiums, hotels, training camps and other World Cup sites in Marrakech, Agadir, Tangier and Casablanca.

However, another group of FIFA experts is to scrutinize hotel capacity and facilities for VIPs next week, Elalamy said.

FIFA officials “made some remarks on the conditions of some of the stadiums,” Elalamy said. “We are currently negotiating with FIFA to find a solution.”

While Morocco has said it needs to spend almost US$16 billion on infrastructure for the 48-team World Cup, including building or renovating all 14 stadiums, the rival North American bid does not require any tournament-specific building work.

Elalamy did not specify the additional information required, taking no questions at an event initially billed as a news conference in Casablanca.

The start of the inspection coincided with the Associated Press revealing that Morocco did not declare its anti-LGBT law to FIFA in the human rights risk assessment submitted in its bid.

Moroccan Association for Human Rights president Ahmed El Haij told reporters that neglecting this represented “an intentional silence” by the bid.

FIFA has declined to comment specifically on the findings, because the bidding process is ongoing ahead of the June 13 vote by up to 207 member associations.

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