Casablanca: Morocco on Saturday pushed its bid to host the 2026 World Cup in the name of Africa despite tough competition from a joint effort by the United States, Canada and Mexico.
Two days after officially submitting Morocco's bid book to FIFA, the head of the bid committee Moulay Hafid Elalamy outlined to the press the country's readiness and determination to host the game.
"The dice has not been cast...Morocco has all the chances," he said.
The North African kingdom has pre-selected 12 cities to host the competition and is proposing 14 stadiums.
Casablanca, the economic hub of Morocco, and Marrakesh, its tourist capital, will each have two stadiums, while the others will be spread around the country.
The largest stadium will be in Tangiers and have a 93,000-seat capacity.
The "pillars" of the Moroccan bid are the "time zones", which is in GMT, that will allow many fans in the regions providing most teams to the contest to watch the games in real time, said Elalamy, who is also Morocco's minister of industry.
He also noted that Morocco offers visa-free entrance to citizens of 70 countries and that the distances between stadium is relatively short, allowing fans to move freely from one to the other.
Morocco is passionate about football and considers the 2026 World Cup a "national cause".
An IPSOS survey requested by the Bidding Morocco 2026 committee showed that 97 percent of Moroccans back their country's bid and 84 percent of them are very interested in football.
"For us football is everywhere, in the countryside, in the cities, with a ball, a piece of cloth," Elalamy.
Morocco has previously bid for the World Cup in 1994, 1998 and in 2006.
The united US/Canada/Mexico bid has been seen as the front-runner for the expanded 48-team tournament.
But anxiety has flickered over the possibility that comments from US President Donald Trump could hurt the bid.
Trump triggered an outcry in January after referring to "shithole countries" when discussing a deal which related to immigrants from Haiti and several African nations.
African votes will account for a substantial bloc in the June 13 election in Moscow which will decide the 2026 hosts.
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Updated Date: Mar 18, 2018 16:50:19 IST