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Morocco outlines stadia plans in World Cup bid

Morocco has put forward a bid to host the 2026 World Cup, which includes using existing stadia and building several new modular venues as well.

The North African country’s bid is the only rival to a joint bid from Canada, Mexico and the United States.

The Morocco 2026 bid committee said it would host a compact tournament in 14 stadia in 12 cities.

Five existing venues in Marrakech (95,500), Agadir (46,000), Fez (46,000), Rabat (46,500) and Tangier (65,000) would be renovated and expanded to come in line with FIFA requirements.

Three new venues would be built, including a National Stadium (Grand Stade – 93,000) in Casablanca that would host the opening match and final of the World Cup.

The other two, with capacities of 45,600 each, would be built in in Oujda and Tetouan.

Following on from similar plans for the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022, Morocco 2026 has also outlined plans for six Legacy Modular Stadiums (LMS) in Casablanca, Marrakech, El Jadida, Meknes, Nador and Ouarzazate. They would have capacities of around 46,000 each.

Total spend on new infrastructure for the completion would be around $16 billion, the bid committee said, including provision for transportation, health care and stadia.

Moulay Hafid Elalamy, Morocco 2026 bid chairman and the government’s Minister for Industry, Investment, Trade & Digital Economy, said:

The Fifa World Cup 2026 is a national priority for our government and that is why it has guaranteed the required investment in our exciting and innovative stadium plans. Our beautiful and welcoming nation offers players and fans something very special with just one time-zone, one currency and all host cities are within a 550km radius from Casablanca, meaning limited travel and simple logistics.

Our hotel capacity has more than doubled since 2003 – we now have 110,000 hotel rooms and we will increase our bed capacity by 70 per cent by 2026. All host cities are also all located within an hour’s drive of an airport, so players and fans need only focus on the one thing that matters most – football.

Elalamy said the LMS are at the heart of Morocco’s bid and are a powerful example of our innovation and commitment to legacy.

They will be at the cutting edge of modernity, 100-per-cent environmentally responsible and conceived with a sustainable philosophy to reduce construction costs and complexity.

As soon as the final whistle blows on the 2026 tournament, the stadiums will be adapted to meet the specific needs of their cities and to make them more accessible for local communities, with the aim of maximising participation in football and other sports and cultural activities. Local clubs will become anchor tenants with responsibility for adapting the stadia to their requirements, particularly in terms of capacity.

Image: Grand Stade de Casablanca