NAIROBI, Kenya, Apr 18- On June 13 in Moscow, Russia, FIFA delegates will head into a vote to decide who between CONCACAF and CAF will get the rights to host the 2026 World Cup in a Congress that will precede this year’s showpiece.
Canada, Mexico and the United States have teamed up to carry CONCACAF’s bid while Morocco will seek to be the second African country to host the quadrennial extravaganza after South Africa in 2010.
The Moroccans have been globetrotting trying to lobby votes from the 211 FIFA members as they aim to bring the World Cup to Africa.
“Why did we have to wait for over 100 years before Africa hosted the World Cup? Why should we wait for another 100 years when there is an opportunity in 2026? Africa is a friendly continent with beautiful culture and tradition and we should have the whole world coming here,” former Nigerian international Daniel Amokachi, one of the Morocco 2026 bid ambassadors told Capital Sport.
Amokachi was in Nairobi to present the Morocco 2026 bid document to Football Kenya Federation boss Nick Mwendwa in a campaign to sway more support to garner the necessary 150 minimum votes that will hand the North African country the hosting rights for the 48-team tournament.
Amokachi who has played in three World Cups with Nigeria as well as winning the gold medal with the team at the 1996 Olympic Games in Atlanta believes Morocco stands a decent chance to win the rights, despite the money-lauded Americas standing in their way.
“It’s looking very good; no doubt that when it comes to vote against the Americas, 100 percent Africa will get the bid if it would be fair. If the integrity that took Sepp Blatter out of office is played right, I don’t see otherwise. We will get it,” Amokachi further stated speaking to Capital Sport on the sidelines of his meeting with FKF.
“When Morocco bids, wit is the continent of Africa that bids and we hope that the continent will back us,” Amokachi further added.
Morocco is trying its luck to host the World Cup bidding for the fifth time. In terms of experience, CONCACAF’s three reps have amassed it all. Mexico has hosted two World Cups, one Confederations Cup, one Under-17 World Cup and one Youth Championship.
The USA has hosted the Women’s World Cup twice and one men’s World Cup. Canada has hosted the Under-16 and Under-20 men’s World Cups, Under 19 and Under-20 Women’s World Cup and the 2015 Women’s World Cup.
This is the sixth stop for Amokachi who was accompanied by two representatives from the Morocco bidding committee. They have already been to Zimbabwe, Zambia, South Africa, Lesotho and Swaziland.
Mwendwa has already plainly said Kenya will vote for Morocco in the congress in Moscow especially having benefited from the North Africans’ generosity over time.
Just recently, the national team Harambee Stars played two friendly matches in Marrakech with the accommodation and local logistics taken care of by the hosts. In 2016, Harambee Starlets had a 14 day training camp in Morocco as they prepared for the African Women’s Cup of Nations.
“If one of us in Africa is bidding, then we have to look home first. The commitment I see is what makes me want to support them. I have spoken to them a couple of times and I am convinced they will do this. The US has not spoken to Kenya. I have never met someone from the US telling us why we should support them,” Mwendwa noted.
Amokachi believes that Morocco presents the best and most comfortable host for the World Cup especially noting that this will be the second expanded World Cup with 48 teams after the tournament in Qatar in 2022.
He says the country’s centrality as well as accessibility is vital to ensure that all participating teams are comfortable.
“Morocco is like only 14km from Europe and also, the distance between the furthest venues is about 54okm which is a 35 minute flight. You don’t want teams and fans fighting fatigue and jet lag while playing. The government has also set up facilities and others are being put up to ensure we have the best World Cup,” Amokachi noted.
He added; “We had one of the best if not the best World Cup in South Africa in 2010. Why not experience that all over again?” posed the ex-Super Eagles man nicknamed ‘The Bull’ in his heydeys donning the green and white of Nigeria.
He is also confident that despite all the political intrigues as well as CONCACAF’s financial muscle will not deter Morocco’s bid and has also intimated that a host of sponsors are eager to get on board once the extravaganza is confirmed to be an African affair.
“Well, out of the 54 African members, we can have a minimum of 50; give and take. We are also looking at convincing the other confederations and hopefully we get the required number to have this come to the continent,” Amokachi noted.
With Kenya planning to fight for a slot in the expanded World Cup, Mwendwa also believes having it in Africa would be a beautiful debut.