Morocco outlines its World Cup plans

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Thandisizwe Mgudlwa

Cape Town – Africa’s hope for hosting the fifa World Cup 2026, Morocco, this week provided a comprehensive plan that it will use to guide its bid to succeed.   

Morocco gave detailed plans for US$15.8 billion in infrastructure spending should it land the FIFA World Cup. This comes with a substantial investment in new or redeveloped stadiums.

According to the Morocco 2026 bid, stadium investment will account for US$3bn of the US$12.6bn in public investment that also requires enhancement of hospital services in 20 cities and improvement of transportation infrastructure for the tournament that will be expanded from 32 to 48 participating nations.

Around US$3.2bn will be spent on improving hotel capacity.

Morocco is facing competition from a combined bid of the United States, Canada and Mexico, which made a point of stressing that no new stadium construction will be required, with all venues in its bid having an average capacity of 68,000.

The FIFA Congress is due to vote to decide on the host on June 13 and can, for the first time, potentially disqualify bids deemed risky before a vote is taken.

As part of its bid, Morocco plans to develop a multi-purpose indoor arena in Marrakech, while the facility in Ouarzazate will become the headquarters of a new multi-purpose football centre for Africa.

Moulay Hafid Elalamy, Morocco 2026 bid chairman and the government’s Minister for Industry, Investment, Trade & Digital Economy, commented that: “The FIFA World Cup 2026 is a national priority for our government and that is why it has guaranteed the required investment in our exciting and innovative stadium plans. Our beautiful and welcoming nation offers players and fans something very special with just one time-zone, one currency and all host cities are within a 550km radius from Casablanca, meaning limited travel and simple logistics.

“Our hotel capacity has more than doubled since 2003 – we now have 110,000 hotel rooms and we will increase our bed capacity by 70 percent by 2026. 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.”

Elalamy added: “Our Legacy Modular Stadiums sit at the heart of Morocco’s bid and are a powerful example of our innovation and commitment to legacy. They will be at the cutting edge of modernity, 100-percent environmentally responsible and conceived with a sustainable philosophy to reduce construction costs and complexity.

“As soon as the final whistle blows on the 2026 tournament, the stadiums will be adapted to meet the specific needs of their cities and to make them more accessible for local communities, with the aim of maximising participation in football and other sports and cultural activities. Local clubs will become anchor tenants with responsibility for adapting the stadia to their requirements, particularly in terms of capacity.”

The Morocco 2026 World Cup Bid Committee on Saturday unveiled 12 proposed cities and 14 stadia, as part of its plans for the event. This was after submitting its bid book to the world football’s governing body on Friday.

Morocco 2026’s proposed stadia include five existing venues in Marrakech (95,565), Agadir (46,048), Fez (46,092), Rabat (46,500) and Tangier (65,000) that will undergo renovation and expansion to meet Fifa requirements.

“Three brand new stadia are planned including the 93,000-capacity National Stadium in Casablanca. These three will be the future home to the national team and host the opening and final matches of the World Cup. 

New stadia with capacities of 45,600 apiece would also be developed in Oujda and Tetouan.”

Morocco 2026 has also outlined plans for six Legacy Modular Stadiums (LMS) with capacities of around 46,000 in Casablanca, Marrakech, El Jadida, Meknes, Nador and Ouarzazate.

The bid committee said they have all been selected based on their transport and accommodation infrastructure, and local football legacy needs. 

Qatar 2022 has employed a similar model of developing stadia that will be scaled back in size post-tournament for a number of its venues for the World Cup.

 

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