Mohamed VI of Morocco has asked Spain’s King Felipe VI to consider a joint bid including Portugal to host the 2026 World Cup. The idea has the backing of Fifa president Gianni Infantino and would be a counter-bid to challenge the USA, Canada and Mexico, who are also planning to run but have been weakened by the election of Donald Trump to the White House.
Morocco has set its sights on hosting the 2026 World Cup in conjunction with Spain and Mohamed VI is confident of counting on the aid of his counterpart King Felipe VI. Both countries also wish to include Portugal in the bid after the Iberian neighbours’ failed attempt to win the right to host the 2022 World Cup. The next two World Cups will take place in Russia (2018) and Qatar (2022). On the basis of continental rotation the joint North and Central American bid is the frontrunner after Germany played host in 2006 but the immigration policies of newly elected US President Donald Trump may work against their designs.
The Fifa president backs a bid that will take place in Africa and Europe and between Muslim and Christian societies. Infantino sees the possibility of a successful bid as a unique opportunity to demonstrate that football can bridge cultural divides and also serve to have Fifa nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize for the initiative in order to clean up the organization’s image after a series of corruption scandals. Ángel María Villar has yet to comment on the idea as to do so he will first need to be re-elected as president of the Spanish Football Federation.
Felipe VI on board
The Spanish monarch sees a joint bid as a good idea, but only if it has a genuine chance of success. That may depend on the course that Trump’s migration policy takes. There is plenty of time to prepare: Fifa will not elect a host nation for the 2026 World Cup until May 2020.
Mohamed VI to pull out all the stops
A Morocco-Spain-Portugal candidacy – an Alliance of Civilizations -- is viewed favourably by the Moroccan and Spanish monarchs and also by Infantino. Working in its favour is the fact that Morocco holds the record as the country most often turned down by Fifa (the North African nation launched failed bids for 1994, 1998, 2006 and 2010) and that the joint Iberian campaign did not profit due to alleged irregularities in the bidding process for the 2018 and 2022 World Cups.
48 competing countries
The 2026 World Cup will be an historic one as it will be the first with an expanded participation of 48 national teams placed into 16 groups of three for the first round. Draws will also be prohibited in the final round of group games and decided by a penalty shoot with no extra time. Morocco, Spain and Portugal hope to be the countries whose names go in the history books.