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Moroccans wait verdict fingers crossed on bid to host World Cup

By Gilbert Wandera | Published Wed, June 13th 2018 at 00:00, Updated June 12th 2018 at 20:58 GMT +3

Soccer Football - International Friendly - Estonia vs Morocco - A. Le Coq Arena, Tallinn, Estonia - June 9, 2018 Morocco fans before the match. [Photo/Courtesy]

It is a big day for Morocco as the Fifa congress meets today to decide the 2026 World Cup hosts.

Morocco hope to become the second African country to host the tournament after South Africa, in 2010.

The North Africans will fight against a joint United States, Mexico and Canada bid.

Teams from both countries were busy making last-minute appeals to delegates at the Crown Plaza hotel in Moscow, ahead of today’s vote.

There is uncertainty in the Moroccan camp with fears that US President Donald Trump’s recent warning to African countries may influence the vote.

Three weeks ago, Trump told African countries they are obligated to vote for the joint bid considering the amount of aid they receive from his country.

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A journalist working for a Moroccan agency said Trump’s words seem to have swung support of some African countries towards the joint bid.

“It remains tough for Morocco when you consider that in the last one week about eight countries have renounced their support and all because of what Trump said. It could make a difference at the end of the day,” said the journalist, on condition of anonymity.

South Africa and Liberia are some of the African countries said to have changed their stand on supporting Morocco.

Football Kenya Federation are supporting Morocco’s bid.

The journalist added that he believes his country has a great bid and stands a good chance.

“We have five ready venues and more time to build others. The distance between the venues is very short and ideal for teams to travel unlike our rivals’ bid that will have matches played across different countries. 

“Furthermore, Morocco is also a footballing nation which you can not compare with America. We expect at least 30,000 fans to come to Russia for this World Cup and it shows that we have what it takes to host the World Cup,” he said.

Due to the sensitivity of the matter, members of the bid teams declined to comment until after today’s vote.

Morocco Football Association President Faouzi Lakjaaa declined to comment on his country’s chances in the vital decision.

“Fifa forbids us to comment on the bid at this time. We can only talk afterwards when the vote has been taken place,”  he said.

But a member of his country’s bid committee said they have a 50-50 chance.

“We met all Confederations except Concacaf, who refused to look at our bid and we have made an official complaint to Fifa over the same.”

 


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