With World Cup fever growing exponentially as the countdown to Russia 2018 continues, the challenge to host the 2026 tournament is heating up. The two bids that FIFA is considering come from Morocco, and a joint effort from the USA, Mexico and Canada. In an effort to swing the votes in their favour, Morocco has emphasised public safety in relation to gun crime.
Morocco, perhaps seizing on the recent public condemnation of American gun laws (highlighted by worldwide marches demanding change in response to school shootings in the U.S.), have pointed to their "very low gun circulation" and "exceptionally low murder rate" compared to the rival bid, according to the Washington Post.
Those figures? The Post notes that in Morocco there are 3 murders in 100,000, compared to 18.7 in Mexico, 5.3 in the U.S. and 1.68 in Canada. Additionally, CNN, citing a survey from the Congressional Research Service, notes that the U.S. is home to nearly half (48%) of the estimated 650m civilian-owned guns worldwide.
Those are certainly damning statistics, but it's unclear if it will be enough to swing enough votes in Morocco's favour. The African nation would need to spend billions of dollars to upgrade or build stadiums, as well as other pieces of public infrastructure. The North American bid, meanwhile, has no such concerns as they already have World Cup-ready stadiums in place (the U.S. hosted the 1994 World Cup).
But in the end, as with most things related to FIFA, the winning bid will likely come from the group that projects generating the most revenue. From the Post:
"Morocco anticipates FIFA getting $785 million revenue from 3.5 million tickets sold, while North America foresees selling 5.8 million tickets to generate $2.1 billion."
Then again, FIFA will be conscious of the many prying eyes overlooking their voting process, given the corruption scandals surrounding Russia and Qatar's successful bids for the 2018 and 2022 World Cups.
So to make it more transparent, FIFA will conduct the votes through an open ballot system which means the public will get to see which nations voted for which bids.
FIFA will vote to award the 2026 World Cup on June 13.