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FIFA Picks Russia To Host 2018 World Cup, Qatar In 2022


Russia Wins Bid To Host 2018 World Cup
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WATCH: Sepp Blatter, the president of soccer's world governing body, FIFA, announced the decision in Zurich. (Reuters video)

Russia has won the right to stage the 2018 soccer World Cup, one of the top sporting events of the world.

At the same time, Qatar was chosen to host the 2022 World Cup.

The two countries were chosen by the executive committee of FIFA, the International Federation of Football Associations, at a voting session in Zurich.

The successful Russian bid for 2018 beat out strong competition from England and joint bids from Spain-Portugal and Netherlands-Belgium.

Earlier in the day, national representatives delivered their final bid presentations to FIFA's 22-member voting panel.

CEO Aleksei Sorokin and chairman Vitaly Mutko (right) of Russia's bid committee address a news conference in Zurich on November 30.
Sports journalists had earlier said they believed Moscow's bid had been weakened by the absence of Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, who was originally due to go to Zurich but changed his mind, hinting that Russia had been the object of a smear campaign.

But as the result of the vote became known, Putin's spokesman in Moscow said the prime minister would after all fly to Zurich.

Once he arrived, Putin vowed that Russia would do the necessary work to stage a successful World Cup, the globe's most popular sporting event.

"You can take my word for it that the 2018 World Cup in Russia will be up to the highest standards," Putin said. "New modern stadiums and facilities will be built in time, and to perfection."

He rejected suggestions that England -- also bidding to stage the 2018 World Cup -- had been cheated, adding that the country was a great footballing nation.

Putin noted that the Western European nations against which Russia was bidding had serious economic problems, while his country has strong growth and the world's third-biggest stocks of gold as well as being the first host in Eastern Europe.

A jubilant Russian Deputy Prime Minister Igor Shuvalov, who was present at the announcement ceremony in the Swiss city, also made a pledge to FIFA President Sepp Blatter and the football public.

"I just can promise, we all can promise you will never regret [this]," Shuvalov said. " Let us make history together!"

In the moments after the announcement, Putin hailed what will be the first World Cup held in Eastern Europe.

"This decision certainly corresponds with FIFA's philosophy of developing football across the world, especially in regions that need such development," Putin said. "Russians love football, they know what football is, and our country has everything that is needed for hosting the 2018 World Cup successfully."

The unsuccessful English bid was backed by a heavyweight team of lobbyists, comprising Prince William, David Beckham, and Prime Minister David Cameron.

The strong English bid was blighted at the last moment by fan violence at a first division game in England on December 1, recalling the bad old days of English soccer rioting in the 1970s and '80s.

In the competition to host the 2022 World Cup, Qatar beat Australia, the United States, Japan, and South Korea.

The selection process comes at a bad time for FIFA, which is facing various allegations of corruption, based on alleged vote-selling.

compiled from agency reports