By Chaimae Boulifa
By Chaimae Boulifa
Rabat – Casablanca, Tangier, Marrakech, Al Hoceima, and Oujda are among the cities announced as potential hosts of the 2026 World Cup, if Morocco’s candidacy for the international football competition is approved.
Seeking to become a destination for important football events, Morocco has included a number of stadiums in its candidacy submitted to the International Federation of Association Football (FIFA), nine of which have been confirmed by Moroccan media outlet Telquel.
To earn the privilege of hosting the games of the World Cup, a long list of requirements established by FIFA must be met.
From the capacity of the stadiums to their location, through the security requirements, the playing area and press cabins, Morocco must carry out stringent checks on the suitability and readiness of the stadiums’ infrastructure in order to host the competition.
What are the Moroccan stadiums that are going to be built or refurbished for the 2026 World Cup? Here is a look on some of stadiums listed in Morocco’s candidacy:
Available stadiums in Morocco
- Mohammed V, Casablanca
The Mohammed V stadium is Morocco’s biggest complex, with a capacity of 67,000 seats. It was named as a host for Morocco’s candidacy to organize the 2010 World Cup, but did not appear in Morocco’s bid to host the 2015 African Cup of Nations.
The stadium, inaugurated in 1955, is known for being home of Wydad and Raja local football teams.
After violent clashes erupted in March 2016 between the supporters of the two local teams, Raja and Chabab Rif Al-Hoceima, the stadium was renovated to enhance security.
- Prince Moulay Abdellah, Rabat
With a capacity of 52,000 seats, Prince Moulay Abdellah Stadium meets FIFA’s requirements. The stadium was a confirmed venue and hosted three football games during the 2014 FIFA Club World Cup, until its reputation was affected by extreme damage to the playing field from heavy rains.
Renovations on the stadium were carried out in March 2016.
The stadium previously appeared in Morocco’s bid to host the 2006 and 2010 World Cups.
- Stade of Marrakech
Since its opening, Marrakech’s stadium has been used mostly for national football games. It has a capacity of 45,240 seats and corresponds to FIFA’s criteria.
It hosted the 2014 IAAF Continental Cup (Athletics World Cup), four games including the final of the 2014 FIFA Club World Cup, and the 2014 African Championships in Athletics.
The stadium is home to Marrakesh’s Kawkab football team.
- Ibn Battouta stadium, Tangier
Tangier’s stadium was inaugurated on 2011 and has a capacity of 45,000 people, serving as the home of Tangier’s football team (IRT).
The stadium hosted the 2011 and 2017 editions of Champions Trophy and was one of the confirmed host stadiums for the 2015 Africa Cup of Nations.
- Stade of Adrar, Agadir
Agadir’s stadium was inaugurated in 2013 to hold 2010 FIFA World Cup games.
The stadium, with a capacity of 45,480 seats, is home to football club Hassania Agadir. It hosted four matches of the 2013 FIFA Club World Cup in December 2013 and was also one of the stadiums to be used for the 2015 Africa Cup of Nations.
- The Fez Sports complex
Fez’s stadium, holding 45,000 seats, was inaugurated during Moroccan Throne Cup of 2006-2007. It is currently used mostly for football matches and it has also athletics facilities.
The stadium appeared in Morocco’s bid to host the editions of 2006 and 2010 World Cup.
Stadiums under construction
- Al Hoceima
The future Al Hoceima’s stadium is expected to be realized under the “Al Hoceima Mediterranean Lighthouse” development project and is expected to reach a capacity of 40,000 individuals.
Since Al Hoceima is often affected by earthquakes, studies related to seismology will be conducted before beginning construction. The project is hoped to be operational by 2019-2020.
Oujda’s new stadium will also be included in Morocco’ candidacy to host the 2026 World Cup. The space, which holds a capacity of 45,000 seats, is supposed to cost around MAD 500 million. The construction work will be conducted by a local architecture firm, in spite of the controversy caused by this designation.
Tetouan’s stadium, marked by the innovative design of the architect Nawfal Bakhat, is supposed to reach a capacity of 40,000 places. The stadium will cost MAD 700 million, according to the daily newspaper L’Économiste. The project will span 36 hectares and will be equipped with technologies respecting the FIFA requirements.
Doubt about Morocco’s stadiums
While nine Moroccan stadiums have been confirmed, the 2026 Cup will be the first with an expanded 48-team tournament, up from the current 32 teams, which will require the host countries to stretch their infrastructure to the maximum.
“The number of stadiums mentioned above remains insufficient for Morocco in its race to win the right to host the 2026 World Cup, compared with other countries,” Ayoub Rafik, a journalist specializing in sports, told Morocco World News.
Rafik pointed out that the powerful joint candidacy of United States, Canada and Mexico has listed a total of 49 stadiums which are currently ready and respect the FIFA’s criteria for hosting games at the 2026 World Cup.
He added that “Morocco, however, still has chance to win the race if the country elaborates and works on its image through marketing, as it enjoys a geo-strategic position as a gateway to Europe, besides other factors such as its time zone.”
“Morocco should convince the voters through marketing strategies,” stressed Rafik.
However, he speculated that, in case Morocco’s request to host the Cup is rejected, the authorities will likely neglect the construction of the previous stadiums’ projects, giving the example of stadiums planned for Morocco’s previous candidacies in 2006 and 2010, which were not executed.