North American bid comes out ahead of Morocco in World Cup inspections
North African country considered 'high risk' in 3 categories
The North American bid to host the 2026 World Cup has outscored Morocco following inspections, with FIFA on Friday labeling the North African proposal "high risk" in three areas.
The joint bid from the United States, Canada and Mexico scored four out of five, while Morocco scored 2.7 following FIFA inspections.
Morocco's high risks relate to stadiums, accommodation and transport. No part of the North America bid was flagged a high risk.
FIFA's five-man panel could have disqualified Morocco had the North African country scored less than two overall, and less than two on key measures including stadiums.
The FIFA Council has to approve both candidates at a June 10 meeting in Moscow. The final vote of up to 207 member federations is on June 13 and the inspection task force scores can be ignored when making their decision.
FIFA ordered more rigorous inspections after criticism of the 2018-2022 World Cup votes in 2010, with a five-man delegation this time paying the countries week-long visits in April.
FIFA sent a second group of officials to Morocco after finding deficiencies in their bid offering, including the stadiums proposed. The Associated Press also revealed that Morocco did not declare its anti-LGBT law to soccer's governing body in the human rights risk assessment included in the bid book.
While Morocco has said it needs to spend almost $16 billion on infrastructure for the 48-team World Cup, including building or renovating all 14 stadiums, North American does not require any tournament-specific building work.
The new batch of technical staff being deployed from FIFA HQ to Morocco did not make a similar follow-up visit to North America after the task force inspected the rival bid's facilities this month. But the North American campaign has been dogged by questions on the impact of policies from the Trump administration, including attempts to implement a ban on travel by residents of six majority-Muslim countries. The U.S. offered fresh guarantees to FIFA there will be no discrimination around entry to the United States at a World Cup in 2026.