CASABLANCA (Reuters) - Morocco has proposed using 14 stadiums and budgeting to spend 15.8 billion dollars on infrastructure if it wins the right to host the World Cup soccer finals in 2026, the country’s bid committee announced at a news conference on Saturday.
But Morocco will not build any new stadiums for the tournament, preferring to renovate and modify existing venues and add temporary capacity to others, said candidature chairman Moulay Hafid Elalamy, who is also a government minister.
The North African country is up against a joint bid from Canada, Mexico and the United States when world soccer governing body FIFA’s member countries decide in Moscow on June 13 who will host the tournament eight years from now.
Saturday’s news conference revealed details of Morocco’s bid book, which was presented to FIFA on Friday, with the central theme being making their football infrastructure sustainable after the tournament and keeping down construction costs.
At least five stadiums, termed legacy modular stadiums and with largely temporary capacity, will be downscaled after the finals to meet the specific needs of their local communities. Casablanca and Marrakech will both have two stadiums with other venues being the capital Rabat, Agadir, El Jadida, Fez, Meknes, Nador, Ouarzazate Oujda, Tangier and Tetouan.
“The World Cup is a national priority for our government and that is why it has guaranteed the required investment in our exciting and innovative stadium plans,” added Elalamy.
“Our beautiful and welcoming nation offers players and fans something very special with just one timezone, one currency and all host cities are within a 550km radius from Casablanca, meaning limited travel and simple logistics.
“All host cities are also all located within an hour’s drive of an airport, so players and fans need only focus on the one thing that matters most – football.”
Morocco bid unsuccessfully to stage the 1994, 1998, 2006 and 2010 World Cups. The country was second to the U.S. in ‘94, behind France in ‘98 and just lost out to South Africa for the 2010 finals, the only time the event has been held in Africa.
Reporting by Mark Gleeson in Durban, editing by Ken Ferris