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Morocco bid: $16bn for 2026 World Cup venues, infrastructure

March 18, 2018

FILE - In this Friday Dec. 1, 2017 file photo, the World Cup trophy is placed on display during the 2018 soccer World Cup draw in the Kremlin in Moscow. Morocco says it will have to spend $16 billion to prepare the country to host the 2026 World Cup, with every proposed stadium and training ground needing to be built from scratch or renovated. With less than three months until the FIFA vote, the north African nation presented details of its proposal to take on the joint bid from the United States, Canada and Mexico. (AP Photo/Alexander Zemlianichenko, file)

Morocco would need to spend almost $16 billion to prepare to host the 2026 World Cup, with every proposed stadium and training ground built from scratch or renovated, the bid said Saturday.

With less than three months to go until the FIFA vote, the north African nation presented the first significant details of its proposal to take on the joint bid from the United States, Canada and Mexico.

The North American bid plans to rely on existing infrastructure, including large NFL stadiums already hosting events.

For the first time, a high-risk bid that does not meet FIFA’s expectations on facilities and profit can be disqualified before the governing body’s congress votes on June 13.

When FIFA officials score the bids , infrastructure — of which half relates to stadiums — will account for 70 percent of the panel’s mark. The remaining 30 percent is based on projected costs and revenues.

For $3 billion, Morocco said it can build nine stadiums, refurbish five others and build or renovate 130 training grounds. That is part of the $12.6 billion in public investment that also requires hospital services being upgraded in 20 cities and transport networks improved for the World Cup after the jump from 32 to 48 participating nations.

The bid said another $3.2 billion of private investment is required to build hotels containing around 30,000 rooms.

Morocco’s bid team told The Associated Press the projections had been “carefully costed” but could not provide a breakdown on how the figures were reached.

Nine new stadiums are planned, including a 93,000-capacity home for the national team in Casablanca that would stage the opening game and final in 2026.

Stadiums would also be built in Oujda (45,600) and Tetouan (45,600), organizers said. New arenas to fit around 46,000 fans are planned in Casablanca, Marrakech, El Jadida, Meknes, Nador and Ouarzazate with the intention of downsizing them to unspecified capacities after the World Cup.

The five existing stadiums that need upgrading are in Marrakech (95,565), Agadir (46,048), Fez (46,092), Rabat (46,500) and Tangier (65,000).

Morocco has mounted four unsuccessful World Cup bids, most recently for the 2010 tournament, while the United States was host in 1994 and was beaten in the vote for the 2022 event.

The North American bid included 23 cities , including 17 in the United States, in documents submitted to FIFA on Friday.

Sixty games would be played in the U.S. under the bid plan, including all from the quarterfinals on. Three cities were included from Mexico and Canada, who would stage 10 games each.

Although the U.S. has a substantial stock of existing stadiums, the bid’s plans were rocked last week by three cities dropping out citing burdensome financial demands by FIFA.

Vancouver was rejected as a Canadian option because it refused to comply with FIFA’s requirements that include tax waivers and putting agreements under Swiss law.

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Rob Harris is at www.twitter.com/RobHarris and www.facebook.com/RobHarrisReports

More AP World Cup coverage: www.apnews.com/tag/WorldCup

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