Morocco has surprised everyone with its last-minute bid to organise the 2026 World Cup.
Africa has hosted the football world’s biggest showpiece only once – in 2010 when South Africa held the event.
The man in charge of African football, Ahmad Ahmad, has given the country his full backing.
“This is our hope and our dream because it is unfair that a great continent like Africa has only been allowed to organise one World Cup in a century,” said the president of the Confederation of African Football.
“I think it is legitimate for us to want one of our countries to make this commitment, and I myself as a president am committed to join in this bid.”
2026 will be the first expanded World Cup with 48 countries participating. The newly renovated Mohamed IV Stadium in Casablanca could be the main venue. But Morocco will first have to prove it can handle such a major event
Morocco is building a good track record by currently hosting the continent’s second biggest tournament – the African Nations Championship.
It has also staged the bigger Africa Cup of Nations and the Francophone games, which featured 1,700 athletes.
And although Morocco faces stiff competition from a joint US, Canada and Mexico bid, there is confidence despite four previous failed bids.
“We are competing against stronger economies, but the voting system has changed, a lot of other things have changed,” Toufik Senhaji, Moroccan football journalist, told Al Jazeera.
“Morocco itself has changed during the last few years in terms of infrastructure. We have seen more development in Morocco,” he said.
Russia 2018 will be the Moroccan team’s first World Cup for 20 years.