Infantino says FIFA can afford Morocco to host 2026 WCup

Ruben Hill
June 13, 2018

The 2026 World Cup vote has thrown Zimbabwe into a conundrum as backing the United candidature would be against the wish of Caf president Ahmad who has been lobbying African countries to rally behind Morocco.

The FIFA council agreed in January to expand the current the 32-country tournament to 48 teams split into 16 groups of three.

"I think I have good relations with everyone in the (Gulf) region because I focus on football, and not on politics", Infantino said.

We had the opportunity to share views, on the forthcoming vote for the 2026 World Cup bid.

Infantino insisted it was premature to speculate on the likelihood of the idea moving forward.

"We have a contract with the Qataris, they have been awarded the World Cup with 32 teams", he said. "Hopefully, on June 13, the outcome of the voting, the Fifa congress will find the willingness by most countries to send that message to the world, football is the important part to send that message", he said.

Infantino said that, if it were to be enlarged, "more teams means more stadiums, more venues, more hotels, more transportation".

SAFA need to stay on the right side of government if it is to chase its newly stated ambitions of hosting a future Women's World Cup and Club World Cup.

"Whether this is possible to be done only in Qatar, of course, is a question mark", Infantino acknowledged, adding Qatar was never formally asked to host a 48-team event alone. "Contracts are there to be respected but there is nothing wrong in discussing".

Qatar will be the first Arab state to host a World Cup in 2022.

Widespread corruption allegations during the bidding process remain under criminal investigation by Swiss prosecutors.

Serious work also needs to be done on the training sites in Morocco, with over half still needing to be built, and the other half requiring renovation.

But for Simon Chadwick, a sports and geopolitics expert at Britain's Salford University, sharing the World Cup would mark "something of a defeat for Doha".

The United States, Canada and Mexico who are jointly bidding to host the 2026 FIFA World Cup on Tuesday met with the Zimbabwe government officials and Zimbabwe Football Association to canvas for support during the forthcoming FIFA congress in Russian Federation where members will vote to decide the hosts of the 2026 World Cup.

The North American bid has always been seen as the overwhelming favourite - and Infantino's preferred choice - but it has faced increasingly stiff competition from Morocco in recent months. For months, Moroccan officials had feared that the Federation Internationale de Football Association task force in charge of the inspections would disqualify them on technical aspects the North Africans labeled at times as "unfair". The joint North American bid scored much better, four out of five, which is considered "very good" with no "high risk" areas.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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