Morocco to challenge North American joint bid to host 2026 World Cup

Morocco announced a last-minute challenge to the joint proposal of the United States, Mexico and Canada for the right to host the 2026 World Cup

Morocco has announced it will bid to host the 2026 World Cup, positioning itself as a last-minute challenger to the joint bid from the United States, Mexico and Canada.

The Moroccan football federation unveiled the bid on Friday with a brief two-sentence statement, corroborating it had submitted a formal application to the relevant Fifa committees. The announcement came hours before Fifas deadline for countries to confirm their intention to bid, and denies the North American bid an unopposed victory at the eleventh hour.

The US-Mexico-Canada bid, first reported by the Guardian and formally announced at an April news conference in New York City, remains the overwhelming favorite to win hosting rights for the 2026 tournament. A successful joint bid would mark the first time the Football world cup has been hosted by multiple countries since the 2002 tournament in South Korea and Japan.

Under the proposal, the US will host 60 games including every match from the quarter-finals onwards with Mexico and Canada dividing the remaining 20 fixtures equally. The United States previously hosted the Football world cup in 1994, and that 24 -team, 52 -match tournament still holds the attendance record( with nearly 3.6 million spectators ), despite a subsequent expansion of the format to 32 squads and 64 matches.

Mexico hosted the tournament in 1970 and 1986, while Canada hosted the womens World Cup in 2015.

In May, Fifa announced a four-stage bidding process for the 2026 tournament with a final decision in May 2020. It later confirmed that the previous two World Cup hosts, Europe and Asia, will not be eligible to host the tournament.

That left North Americas Concacaf( which last hosted in 1994 ), Africas CAF( which last hosted in 2010 ), South Americas Conmebol( Brazil in 2014) and Oceanias OFC( never ).

The CAF offered its backing to the Moroccan bid last month, and Morocco could spring an upset if it can broker an adequate voting confederation. Europe has 55 members in the Congress, Africa 54, Asia 46, Concacaf 35, Oceania 11 and South America 10.

Fifa will now inspect the two finalists bids and report to the governing bodys member associations by March. The final referendum will take place at the Fifa congress in June.

Weve always been prepared for the fact that other countries could also decide to bid for the 2026 FIFA World Cup, US Soccer president Sunil Gulati said in a statement on Friday. Competition is good, and overall it shows the value and importance of the World Cup.

Over the next eight months weve got a lot of work to do.

The North American bid is bolstered by a fleet of gleaming new NFL stadia built over the past two decades that are suitable for international matches, which puts it in step with the cost-conscious, infrastructure-ready leanings of the day.

But Morocco, which would become only the second African nation to host a World Cup after South Africa in 2010, has six soccer stadiums with 45,000 seats or more already in use, meaning it would not require as much new construction as previous host nations.

The North African country with long coastlines along the Atlantic Ocean and Mediterranean Sea previously bid for the Football world cup in 1994, 1998, 2006 and 2010.

Two years ago, the Daily Telegraph reported that Morocco had, in fact, won the vote to host the 2010 competitor even though Fifa awarded the tournament to South Africa. Morocco also came close in its campaign for the 1998 tournament, losing to France in the final round by a margin of 12 to seven.

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World Cup qualifier: USA draw with Mexico after Michael Bradley wonder goal

A superb strike from Michael Bradley dedicated the US a bonus point in the quest to reaching next years World Cup and a big psychological boost

A superb strike from Michael Bradley gave the US a bonus point in the quest to reach next years World Cup, and a big psychological boost.

A squad still finding their feet under Bruce Arena shrugged off a dismal history at the Estadio Azteca to assert a draw on Sunday night, seeming liberated by the lack of pressure that comes with restriction expectations.

The captain, whose attacking prowess has not been to the fore in recent matches, intercepted the ball in midfield in the sixth minute, dashed forward and, spotting the goalkeeper out of stance, chipped him from 40 yards for a sensational opening goal. The shoot sank over Guillermo Ochoa in a mesmerising arc: a piece of craftsmanship, imagination and beauty so perfect that a video replay should run on an endless loop in a permanent exhibition at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Planet Ftbol (@ si_soccer)

WHAT. A. GOAL.( Via @FOXSoccer) https :// essdEgwgt6 #MEXvUSA

June 12, 2017

Obviously it gave us an advantage early on, Bradley told Fox Sports 1. They had a lot of the ball but tactically video games ran the route we expected any time you get a point here its great, the mentality and specific commitments from every guy was really good. Bradley nearly scored again from distance inside the last 20 minutes with a thunderbolt that clipped the outside of a post.

Carlos Vela scored Mexicos goal, but a point was most welcome and fully merited for the US after an obdurate display in Mexico City against the side that results academic qualifications standings. The US moved level on phases with Costa Rica, who the hell is second, although the Americans have played a game more.

Since Mexico won the previous meeting between the teams, the outcome also stands as a yardstick indicating improvements since Arena became coach-and-four. We had let a lot of little things drop and I believe Bruce has come in and done a really good job, Bradley said in his post-match interview.

Mexico beat Honduras 3-0 last Thursday and – in stark contrast to their commotion four years ago – have seemed impressive in this qualifying campaign under their coach, Juan Carlos Osorio, a Colombian who is a former coach-and-four of the Chicago Fire and New York Red Bulls and a one-time student in Liverpool.

They also looked good a year ago in the Copa America Centenario before the bizarre blip in the quarter-finals when they lost 7-0 to eventual winners Chile. Here they were missing the injured Rafael Marquez, Miguel Layun and Andres Guardado, though Carlos Salcedo made an unexpected recovery from a leg injury.

Starting off the final Hexagonal round of Concacaf qualification, Mexico beat the US 2-1 in Columbus, Ohio, last November thanks to a late Marquez goal. It was an occasion freighted with political as well as sporting importation, three days after the election of a certain former failed athletics franchise owned to the White House.

The outcome objective the Americans 30 -game home unbeaten run in World Cup qualifiers as well as the dos a cero scoreline streak. When the US lost to Costa Rica a couple of days later, Jurgen Klinsmanns tenure as head coach-and-four was doomed.

Arena had said after the win over Trinidad& Tobago last week that he would change the team; he transformed it, with seven new names in the starting XI. Perhaps most astonishingly, the in-form Tim Howard, who played in the Americans merely win at the Azteca, a 1-0 friendly victory in 2012, was rested and replaced in objective by Brad Guzan.

Geoff Cameron, Bradley, DeAndre Yedlin and Christian Pulisic were the only four to retain their places; left back Jorge Villafana was injured. The energetic 21 -year-old, Kellyn Acosta, of FC Dallas, came in to act as a midfield disrupter in a formation that was a 3-4-3 in possession. It is the kind of dramatic rotation that, were Klinsmann still in the dug-out, might have inspired insinuations about his competence and/ or sanity. But Arenas pedigree, demeanor and the current performances of the team inspire more trust in his judgment.

The short rest between games was undoubtedly one factor; another, perhaps, was that with three points collected against T& T, Arena could afford to experiment at a venue where avoiding defeat felt likely to be a long-shot no matter who he picked.
While Arena understandably fretted about the health risks physical effects of the Aztecas high altitude its factor as a competitive advantage risked being exaggerated; only two of the Mexico line-up play their club football in the country. The pace of video games scarcely dipped as the night wear on, with both teams attempting a winner.

The 18 -year-old Pulisic has become the USs get-out-of-mediocrity free card, as “hes in” the fitful 2-0 win over bottom side T& T in the Denver suburbs last Thursday, scoring two second-half aims. On Sunday, though quieter, he made an adroit run and pass to set up a chance for Yedlin late in the first half, and an audacious attempted sand-wedge of a pass through the back line that was cleared.

Pulisic had boldly predicted victory ahead of this game. He had the opportunity to stimulate his prophecy come true with two minutes remaining as he fashioned an enticing chance, but shot wide from the leading edge of the area. This time, for once, he would not be the headline-maker.

It was the kind of intense occasion that would have benefitted from firm officiating. But in the first three minutes, Salcedo was lucky to escape a booking for an elbow on DaMarcus Beasley, and seconds later, ought to have been sent off for another flailing limb that caught Bobby Wood.

Then arrived Bradley: it was the Toronto FC midfielders second international objective since July 2015 and a rare moment of adversity under Osorio; merely the second aim Mexico had confessed in six Hex matches.

Chicharito should have levelled after 20 minutes when set clear, but with the ball ricochet, mishit his lob over Guzan and injured himself colliding with the goalkeeper, though he played on. The competition was tied soon after. On the counter-attack, Beasley in his US-record fifth cycle of World Cup qualifiers was unable to stop Vela cutting inside and dribbling along the leading edge of the penalty area, giving him enough of an slant to lash a low shoot beyond Guzan. The US defender Omar Gonzalez fluffed a free header inside Mexicos box as both teams looked dangerous, but went in at the infringe locked at 1-1.

More direct than Mexico who worked the ball from side to side in search of space that the visitors largely closed down effectively the US were spirited in the second half and made a couple of half-chances.

Still, Mexico virtually scored again with 20 minutes left as Hector Herrera cannoned a free kick off Guzans crossbar. Then arrived Bradleys effort that reached the post. As rainfall has declined in Mexico City, the Americans held on amid late pressure.

With a goalscoring turn from one of his starrings and solid showings from lesser lightings, Arenas choice of players was vindicated and indicates a degree of depth that will give him the kind of selection problems that all managers enjoy as the US heads into this summers Gold Cup feeling good about making it to Russia.

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