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FIFA to choose between North America or Morocco for 2026 World Cup

AFP  |  Moscow 

members will decide on Wednesday whether should be played in or return to for just the second time, in

The choice is clear -- between a slick bid based on gleaming stadiums in the United States, and or an ambitious attempt from based on as-yet largely unbuilt facilities.

On the eve of in Russia, 207 member nations will cast their vote in a congress of world football's governing body.

Morocco's bid for 2026 was only cleared to advance to the earlier this month, despite a evaluation report which classified the north African nation's stadia, accommodation and transport as "high risk." The report left the US-bid as the after giving it a rating of four out of a possible five.

received only 2.7 out of five, but advanced despite red flags being raised over several critical components of the bid.

A FIFA summary of the bid task force's findings warned that "the amount of new infrastructure required for the Morocco 2026 bid to become reality cannot be overstated." - Referendum on Trump? -

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But the North American bid has been dogged by concerns that the vote could become a referendum on the popularity of US

On Monday, repeated a message he has hammered out again and again in recent months -- vote on us, not Trump.

"We believe strongly that this decision will be made on its merits," Cordeiro said in a conference call with reporters.

"This is not geopolitics, we're talking about and what is fundamentally, at the end of the day, the best interest of and our footballing community... We've had no backlash." The US lost out to in 2022 in a vote now tarnished by corruption allegations which spelled the beginning of the end of the once all-powerful FIFA

Critics of the Morocco bid also point to the fact that will be the first to be expanded to 48 teams, posing a severe test for the hosts. -

Fourth time lucky? -

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But the north Africans are still considered to be in with a genuine chance. It has tried, and failed, four times before, in votes for the 1994, 1998, 2006 and 2010 tournaments -- it lost out in the latter to South Africa, the only African nation ever to have hosted football's global showpiece.

Morocco has the support of many European countries, attracted by its geographical proximity, and most of Africa, in line with a call from the of the Confederation of African Football,

But two English-speaking African countries, and South Africa, have defected to the bid.

Morocco's says the bid is based on the "fervour for in the country and the entire African continent" and promises all the host cities will be less than an hour's flight apart.

North American bid leaders countered by promising to deliver a record $11 billion (9.25 billion euros) profit.

Cordeiro said: "Our vision is a very simple one. We offer FIFA an unprecedented united opportunity to stage We believe strongly that this decision will be made on its merits." FIFA is believed to strongly support the North

American bid because the three countries involved backed him for the presidency in 2016 when he took over after the reign of Blatter, who is being investigated in for alleged corruption.

Although the FIFA evaluation report clearly assessed as the superior bid, it was not necessarily a knockout blow for Morocco.

In 2010, a FIFA evaluation committee flagged Qatar's bid for 2022 as "a health risk for players, spectators, officials" over ferocious heat in the Gulf state in June and July.

duly won the vote in a shock result in Zurich; FIFA later moved the tournament to November and December 2022.

The corruption-tainted nature of the 2010 vote prompted FIFA to overhaul its bidding process for

Whereas previously the 24 members of the FIFA committee used to determine World Cup races, now the hosts will be decided by a vote of 207 individual FIFA member nations.

(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

First Published: Tue, June 12 2018. 10:15 IST
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