Morocco launches a bid to host the World Cup final in the haggling for venues | Sports

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After having tried alone for three decades on five occasions without success (1994, 1998, 2006, 2010 and 2026), Morocco will finally host a football World Cup in 2030. It will be led by Spain and Portugal, whose candidacy it joined officially just seven months ago. FIFA’s decision, announced on Wednesday, has been received by Moroccans as a comforting balm four weeks after the violent earthquake that shook the south of the Maghreb country, leaving a trail of almost 3,000 deaths and some 60,000 damaged homes. Accustomed to dealing with complex geopolitical issues, the Royal Moroccan Football Federation has rushed to move towards a position of advantage, launching a bid for the final match to be played in Casablanca, in a newly built stadium with capacity for 93,000 spectators. The step taken in Rabat marks the beginning of a long and complex haggling with the Spanish and Portuguese federations for the distribution of venues that will last for at least two years.

The president of the Royal Moroccan Football Federation, Fouzi Lekjaa, who combines the position with that of Minister of Budgets, was the first to evoke the option of the future Casablanca Grand Stadium as the venue for the final, and not, as seems more predictable. today, at the Santiago Bernabéu. The Casablanca stadium will be erected on the outskirts of Morocco’s economic capital for the 2025 African Cup of Nations, a competition that the North African country is hosting for the second time after having organized it in 1988. “We hope to experience an extraordinary final that honors to the continent and the young generations in a Casablanca stadium that will be extraordinary and wonderful,” declared the head of Moroccan football to a local radio station, before calling the Spanish and Portuguese representatives to a meeting in two weeks in Rabat. .

Lekjaa was appointed president of the Moroccan organizing committee for the 2030 World Cup on Thursday by King Mohamed VI. He will now have to wait for the election of a new president of the Royal Spanish Football Federation to have an interlocutor after the outbreak of the Rubiales case. The Minister of Culture and Sports, Miquel Iceta, responded from Madrid, also on the radio, and recalled that there is an advanced agreement between the three organizing federations and that “the final is scheduled to be held in Spain,” although He admitted that the three countries will fight for it to be held in their respective territory. The plan is for the final to be at the Bernabéu and the Portuguese and Moroccans will host a semi-final each.

Morocco, a country passionate about soccer, vibrated last year with the victories in the Qatar World Cup of the Atlas Lions, as the Moroccan team is popularly known. On the fields of the Gulf, its players reached the semifinals for the first time, after precisely defeating their current candidacy partners – Spain, in the round of 16, in the penalty shootout, and Portugal (1-0), in the quarterfinals. – and set a precedent for Arab and African football. The Maghreb country already organized the women’s Africa Cup of Nations in 2022 and is also preparing to do so in 2025 for the men’s teams.

Last winter, Morocco used the Club World Cup, a competition it already hosted in 2013 and 2015, to begin modernizing its large sports facilities. It also aspires to host the 2029 edition of the Mundialito in a new format of 32 teams. The experience accumulated in international competitions has driven the stadium renovation or construction program. Work is already underway on expanding the Mulay Abdelá camp in Rabat to 61,000 places and the Ibn Batuta camp in Tangier to 65,000. Together with the new Casablanca Grand Stadium, they constitute the central axis of the Moroccan candidacy. They are connected by Africa’s only high-speed train line and have international airports, particularly in the large African terminal of Casablanca.

The Moroccan federation has also offered FIFA the stadiums in Fez (45,000 seats), in the center of the country, and Agadir (42,000) and Marrakesh (45,000), in the south. Its president has not excluded other options, without specifying them, although the local press cites those of Tetouan, in the north, and Dakhla (former Villa Cisneros), in Western Sahara, although the latter would pose political difficulties, as it is not part of the territory. Moroccan recognized mostly by the international community.

Morocco appears to meet FIFA requirements, which requires a minimum capacity of 40,000 spectators for a stadium to be designated as a venue, which rises to 60,000 seats in the case of the semifinals and 80,000 for the final. The world football body also demands training camps for the teams, a wide fan zone for fans of the national teams and a public transport and parking network commensurate with the magnitude of the events. It also prescribes an offer of between 12,000 and 24,000 hotel beds, depending on the meetings.

The cost of organizing the 2030 World Cup for Morocco has been estimated at around 52 billion dirhams (about 4.8 billion euros) by the Société Générale de Maroc bank, according to a report cited by the digital information portal Le360. This amount, half of which will be borne by the Moroccan State, would be slightly less than a third of the total planned budget of the candidacy together with Morocco and Spain.

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