Morocco's 2026 World Cup bid gets crucial Sepp Blatter endorsement
Sepp Blatter’s endorsement used to be money in the bank. (Fabrice Coffrini/Agence France-Presse/Getty Images)
Morocco seemingly faces an uphill climb as the lone opponent to a joint North American bid to host the 2026 World Cup. The United States, Mexico and Canada have all the advantages, both tangible (already-built stadiums, tourism infrastructure and the like) and otherwise (Morocco’s bid has been hampered by its utter lack of actual details).
But the Northern African nation does have one thing going for it: the endorsement of Sepp Blatter!
— Joseph S Blatter (@SeppBlatter) February 22, 2018
As endorsements go, this one seems suboptimal. Blatter resigned as FIFA president in 2015 amid mounting scandal and later was banned from world soccer for eight years. (It was reduced to six upon appeal.) Still under suspicion in various state-run investigations, his travel options are limited to his home country of Switzerland and the friendly confines of Russia, whose president, Vladimir Putin, has invited him to attend this year’s World Cup.
Blatter has something of a point, however. The only nations to jointly host a World Cup were Japan and South Korea in 2002, and joint bids were rejected for the 2010 tournament (a group of Western African nations proposed hosting) and for this year’s version (Belgium-Netherlands and Spain-Portugal were shot down).
In addition, the chairman of the North American bid for 2026 has fretted publicly about political factors complicating his group’s campaign.
But calling Morocco the “logical host” is a bit of a stretch — again, officials there have revealed next to nothing about their plans — as is his claim that “it is time for Africa again!” South Africa hosted the World Cup in 2010; the last men’s tournament to take place on North American soil took place in the United States in 1994. Mexico, a traditional World Cup stalwart, hasn’t hosted the event since 1986.
Voting for the 2026 World Cup — which will expand to 48 teams — will be held just ahead of this year’s tournament June 13 in Moscow. For the first time, all 211 FIFA member nations will vote on the host country (or countries). In the past, only a small group of high-ranking FIFA officials were allowed to vote, which created conditions ripe for bribery and indirectly led to Blatter’s downfall. He has denied any wrongdoing, but he remains under investigation by Swiss authorities.
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