New York – On Wednesday, FIFA will decide whether Morocco or the United bid (the US, Canada, and Mexico) will host the World Cup in 2026. While it is too early to tell what the outcome will be, Morocco places itself in a winning position regardless.
First, in a David vs. Goliath situation, the countries really invested in the sport may indeed back the underdog. The game is about the tension, the drama, and the intrigue – often until the last possible moment. Why should the bidding process be any different?
Indeed, to the extent the World Cup is intended to contribute to the development of the sport, Morocco is a far better candidate, as it stands to grow far more from this result than the United countries.
It may be easy to believe that the championship is only about corrupt practices, arm-twisting by more powerful and wealthier states, or a predictable and mechanical scoring of the points… but if that was the only thing that could be counted on, FIFA, which has certainly had its dark moments, would have long since ceased to exist.
If indeed Morocco wins the hosting rights
, it will have the benefit of the task force’s assessment scoring to know where areas of concern need to be addressed. By definition, that means building on and improving the infrastructure framework.
With over twenty votes already in its pocket, Morocco also has an opportunity to identify valuable allies and partnerships with the countries which have supported her bids and to grow these alliances in the coming years.
In the event of the United bid garnering over one half of the 207 possible votes, however, Morocco may seize on the opportunity to build on the successes it has already achieved, and channel the additional motivation into launching another bid for the 2030 World Cup. Aiming for 2030 would give Morocco a timeline for growth in all the areas outlined that would satisfy any critic.
Whatever happens Wednesday, it is an opportunity, but the act of participating in the process put Morocco in a highly competitive arena, highlighting its leadership status in Africa and reframing the image of the country as a striver that is ready to punch above its weight.
The vote will be a historic moment, because Morocco is operating heroically with the odds stacked against her. It is dealing with a joint bid of three major countries, which are also getting significant assistance from Saudi Arabia.
Voting countries are under pressure from President Trump to vote with United, enough for FIFA to force open voting. The fact that United needs to lobby so hard and receive assistance with lobbying from its allies shows that despite its inherent advantages, Morocco is a formidable competitor.
Morocco’s determination in spite of these circumstances has generated respect, and it has also showcased very positive and uplifting reasons to support her aspirations.
Most countries thus far have remained silent on their votes or are wavering. Rather than predictably cast votes for the frontrunners, they should be thinking about the future of the game, and their own self-interest.
Despite President Trump’s pressure regarding the vote, he will be in office for no more than six years, and the next administration, through no choice of its own, would be entrapped with the outcome of the result on Wednesday.
The relationship between the United States and these countries, in the long run, will not be seriously affected by the vote regarding a sports event; frankly, votes on major international issues are far more important.
Politics and sports should not mix; the fact that some countries have felt it necessary to tie in unrelated political issues into the process has been disconcerting, unethical, and should be considered undue influence. Morocco has maintained a high ground in that regard, focusing on the fairness of the process and opposing the corruption that has plagued FIFA with regards to the past two bids.
But to the extent that any politics at all come into consideration, their focus should be not on resolving political feuds and settling old scores, but rather through using this opportunity to build lasting connections towards something positive.
By supporting Morocco’s bid, the undecided or wavering countries would be casting a vote in favor of strengthening neighboring relations, reaching out to a small, developing country that is working hard to grow beyond its limitations, and also make clear that intimidation tactics are unacceptable in sports.
The meaning of the World Cup is in the curious tension between international camaraderie and a competitive process. By standing with Morocco, these countries have an opportunity to show solidarity with a country that is overcoming obstacles to do something great for its many people passionate about sports, and who set everything aside to rally around football.
At the end of the day, the process is just as much about love, courage, freedom, and dogged determination, as it is about efficiency, proficiency, and technical marks.
The voting members should look at how the entire country of Morocco is lit up with hope for what would surely be a monumental event and ask themselves not only “Which is easier? Which is more likely?” But also “What is right?”
Voting countries should support Morocco’s bid because it is the right thing to do. It is hard earned (and Morocco will continue to work hard to earn it), and it has never happened in its history before (while the United States and Mexico have hosted the World Cup in the past).
Morocco should win because it wants the victory more, it has worked and will continue to work harder than anyone else in the race, and it will benefit its friends, allies, supporters, and even rivals in the process of working towards the fulfillment of its national dream.
While it is impossible to know in advance the final tally, the day will be a guaranteed win for Morocco, because it has lobbied with honor and on the merits, in the spirit of sportsmanship and respect. And that, at the end of the day, is what a real victory looks like.