The World Cup trophy. Photo: AP Photo/Pavel Golovkin
The World Cup trophy. Photo: AP Photo/Pavel Golovkin
Moulay Hafid Elalamy, president of Morocco's bid committee. Photo: REUTERS/Stringer
Moulay Hafid Elalamy, president of Morocco's bid committee. Photo: REUTERS/Stringer

CASABLANCA, Morocco - FIFA experts will make a second visit to Morocco next week after expressing some concerns over hotel capacity and stadiums earmarked for the North African nation's ambitious bid to host the 2026 World Cup.

The visit follows this week's four-day trip by FIFA's evaluation group ahead of the vote on the 2026 hosts to be taken on June 13, just before the 2018 World Cup kicks off in Russia.

The group visited five cities this week "and noticed some deviations from the initial planned programme," said the president of the Moroccan bid, Moulay Hafid Elalamy.

The working group "asked questions about reliability of accommodation projections...and the plans for the transformation of stadiums," he added.

Elalamy insisted that the group showed "admiration for our dossier" but "made some remarks about the non-compliance of some of the stadiums. Our experts are in discussions with FIFA."

"So next week, FIFA will send to Morocco experts to talk to us about possible solutions for accommodation and stadiums," said Elalamy, who welcomed "reciprocal satisfaction during talks".

The visit comes three weeks after criticism from the Moroccan Football Federation (FRMF) on the rating system and the technical criteria chosen by FIFA for the selection of a host country.

Morocco is battling a joint bid from the United States, Canada and Mexico to host the 2026 World Cup. The North African nation has bid four times in the past for the World Cups of 1994, 1998, 2006 and 2010.

For their fifth attempt, they are planning 12 hosts cities and 12 stadiums. The African continent has hosted the World Cup just once -- in South Africa in 2010.

Meanwhile, France is set to back Morocco's bid to host the tournament, the president of the French Football Association said on Friday.

"FIFA are visiting Morocco this week to check if the pitches are ready and whether, on a technical level, Morocco can be a candidate. If Morocco is retained (as a candidate), the French Football Federation will support it," Noel Le Graet said at a sponsorship event on Friday.

"Africa has often been neglected, history has only given it one competition," said Le Graet, pointing out the number of talented players to come out of the continent.

"Morocco is today a very developed country and it has, in my opinion, all the qualities to do it."

The FIFA inspectors arrived in the country on Monday for a three-day visit to assess Morocco's ability to host the competition.

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