World Cup - Russia to host 2018 World Cup

Thu, 02 Dec 17:23:00 2010

Russia have beaten England in the fight to host the 2018 World Cup.

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Russia led in every round of voting and won an absolute majority on the second round of voting against European rivals England and the joint-bids of Netherlands/Belgium and Spain/Portugal.

England were eliminated after the first round with only two votes from the 22-strong committee.

The announcement of the winning bid was made by FIFA president Sepp Blatter at Zurich's Messezentrum.

Russia and Qatar, who will stage the 2022 finals, are both first-time hosts.

Blatter said: "We go to new lands. Never has the World Cup been in Russia and Eastern Europe, and the Middle East and Arabic world have been waiting for a long time so I'm a happy president when we talk about the development of football."

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Russia deputy prime minister Igor Shuvalov, whose delegation whooped with delight on the announcement, said: "You have entrusted us with the FIFA World Cup for 2018 and I just can promise, we all can promise, you will never regret it. Let us make history together."

Russia's prime minister Vladimir Putin flew in to Zurich immediately after the winning vote and held a news conference before going on to meet and thank Blatter and FIFA.

"We are honoured to win in this tough and fair fight," he said. "Thank you for supporting Russia. Together let us make sure football supports fair play, tolerance, honour."

Putin added that he had made the right decision to stay away from Zurich for Russia's final presentation so FIFA executives could make their choice in peace after corruption allegations against some executive committee members in the British media.

"I did this out of respect," he said. "There was unacceptable campaigning that was deployed for the World Cup in 2018. People were accused of corruption. They were accused without any grounds, without any reasons, no justifications."

Russian president Dmitry Medvedev celebrated with a Twitter post declaring, "Hurrah! Victory!" after the FIFA decision.

Finance minister Alexei Kudrin said Russia will spend significantly less on preparations of the 2018 World Cup than on the organisation of the 2014 Winter Olympics.

"It'll be significantly less," Kudrin said. "We have a clear plan on assigning sites."

Russia plans a massive building project to prepare for the World Cup and has put forward proposals for 16 stadiums in 13 host cities, with only three current stadiums being renovated and 13 to be built from scratch.

The construction project is budgeted at $3.82 billion - the largest figure among the four European bidders.

Running costs for staging the 2017 Confederations Cup and 2018 World Cup in Russia would cost $641.3 million, the bid has estimated.

The 2014 Winter Olympics will cost about $8 billion, officials say, but Russian media have reported that the preparations could cost over $30 billion.

FIFA's executive committee voted for the two winning bids after a fierce lobbying campaign which saw world political leaders and top sports personalities gather in Zurich to press their case for one of the most prestigious and lucrative prizes in global sport.

Russia presented itself in their final presentation as a huge nation which had never before staged the World Cup, contrasting it with western Europe where all the major nations have staged the event.

Alexei Sorokin, the Russian bid's CEO, began by quoting Winston Churchill's famous description of Russia as "a riddle wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma".

He said: "We can understand this perception that foreigners have but it's a Russia...that no longer exists."

England may have suffered from a backlash against corruption investigations into FIFA members by BBC Panorama and the Sunday Times over the last two months. These investigations were criticised both by Putin and Spain/Portugal bid president Angel Villar Llona in his presentation to fellow FIFA members.

Six FIFA officials were last month suspended following a Sunday Times investigations and on Monday, BBC Panorama claimed three other FIFA members had taken bribes in the 1990s.

The defeat comes despite an impressive presentation by England that was described by Blatter as "excellent and remarkable".

Prince William, David Cameron and David Beckham all sparkled but were all outshone by 27-year-old Eddie Afekafe, who works on Manchester City's community programmes.

Voting figures:

First round:

Russia 9

Spain/Portugal 7

Netherlands/Belgium 4

England 2 (eliminated)

Second round:

Russia 13

Spain/Portugal 7

Netherlands/Belgium 2


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