Morocco’s bid to host the 2026 World Cup must be allowed to reach the final vote without being disqualified in order to avoid any questions about the selection process, according to a senior FIFA official from Germany.
Morocco is considered an underdog to the joint bid from the United States, Mexico and Canada, and the country’s bid leaders have already voiced fears that FIFA inspectors could disqualify them from the June vote by giving insufficient marks to their tournament plans.
Reinhard Grindel, a FIFA council member, told the Associated Press that inspectors must avoid disqualifying the Morocco bid in order to prevent any conspiracy theories from taking hold.
“If there are only two [candidates], the congress must have the chance to vote,” said Grindel, president of the German soccer body which will help elect the host on June 13 in Moscow. “We don’t need any rumours in such a process.”
He said kicking out one of the bidders would mean “there always will be a rumour about the background of such a decision.”
The governing body changed its selection process for World Cup bids after the 2010 vote, in which a now-discredited executive committee picked Russia and Qatar as future hosts against the advice of FIFA-appointed advisers who had flagged both as the highest-risk options.
Since then, FIFA has put together a task force to visit and grade candidates on a list of criteria, and empowered it to disqualify any bid averaging less than 2 on a scale of 0 to 5.
Morocco needs to build or renovate 14 stadiums and more than 100 training fields while the North American bid has already selected 16 tournament-ready venues and has a surplus of team bases.
Still, Morocco has support beyond Africa despite predicting ticket sales to fans totalling $1.3 billion less than the North American bid projects.
More than 200 member nations will be take part in the open vote, with each federation’s choice made public that same day.
Grindel said Germany would not decide before reading the evaluation from the task force.
“I think the task force must give a very clear report and must give all the [voters] a clear statement which bid is perhaps better,” he said, adding that each federation should have to “explain why they are voting for a bidder who is not in the eyes of the experts able to host such a World Cup.”
“I couldn’t believe that the outcome of such a vote would be that the not-qualified bidder will win,” Grindel said.