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|Russia’s bid was picked ahead of England, Spain-Portugal and Holland-Belgium to host the 2018 event [EPA]|
Russia and Qatar will host the football World Cup finals in 2018 and 2022 respectively, Fifa, the sport’s governing body said.
Thursday’s decision, announced by Sepp Blatter, the Fifa president, followed a bidding process involving 11 nations seeking a prize expected to bring a huge economic boost for the chosen hosts.
Both decisions were made following a secret ballot of Fifa’s 22 executive members in Zurich.
The vote will spark huge cash investment by the successful nations, and bring them under intense scrutiny as the world watches to see if they can stand up to the challenge.
It is the first time that either Russia or Qatar has been chosen as host nation for the World Cup.
The Russian bid was picked ahead of England, Spain-Portugal and Holland-Belgium to host the 2018 event.
Russia fits with Fifa’s preference for new territories following the success of South Africa’s first World Cup in 2010.
It has a vast budget and the backing of the government.
Vladimir Putin, the Russian prime minister, said his country was honoured to win a “tough and fair fight” to host the tournament.
Putin arrived in Zurich late on Thursday, hours after Fifa’s executive committee announced the results of the vote.
“You can take my word for it, the 2018 World Cup in Russia will be up to the highest standards,” said Putin.
“New modern stadiums and facilities will be built in time and to perfection. We are eager to do our best to secure the comfort and safety of our guests.”
Qatar got the better of the United States, Australia, Japan and South Korea to stage the 2022 event.
It has promised air-conditioned and eco-friendly stadiums to combat 50C summer heat, and the chance to see more than one match per day due to the small size of the country.
With few of the stadiums or transport links yet to be built, Fifa is said to have taken a leap of faith in choosing Qatar.
But with billions of dollars in oil and gas revenue available to spend, the attraction of a first World Cup in the Middle East appears to have tilted the scales in its favour.