ZURICH - Russian Prime Minister Vladimir
Putin will not travel to attend Thursday's World Cup hosting
decision in Zurich, dealing a blow to his country's hopes of
staging the tournament in 2018.
Putin, who said First Deputy Prime Minister Igor Shuvalov
would attend the ceremony, said Russia had faced "unscrupulous
competition" in the bid to host the World Cup.
"We have unfortunately witnessed a campaign against members
of the FIFA executive - filth and compromising material has
been poured over them. I see this as unscrupulous competition
ahead of the vote," Putin told ministers in Moscow.
"I would have liked to have gone myself but under these
conditions, I have decided to refrain from travelling out of
respect for the members of FIFA, the members of the FIFA
executive, so that they can make a decision calmly without any
pressure from the outside."
Football's world governing body FIFA will choose the hosts for
the 2018 and 2022 World Cups on Thursday.
Russia, England, and joint bids from Spain/Portugal and
Netherlands/Belgium are contesting the 2018 finals, while the
United States, Qatar, Japan, South Korea and Australia are
bidding to stage the 2022 tournament.
"If the decision is made in favour of our bid I will
immediately meet (FIFA president Sepp) Blatter and members of
FIFA's executive to discuss the plans," Putin added.
"Russia wants and hopes and has the ability, including
financial, to host this largest of tournaments. If we are given
the chance we will do this in the best possible way."
The race to host the finals has been mired in controversy
with an investigation by the British Broadcasting Corporation's
Panorama programme accusing three members of FIFA's executive
committee (Exco) of taking bribes.
All denied any wrongdoing.
Blatter has criticised British media entrapment in claiming
corruption within his organisation, although two Exco members
were suspended earlier this month following allegations of
wrongdoing made by the Sunday Times newspaper.
The hosting decision will therefore now be made by 22
members of the FIFA executive committee instead of 24.
Putin has been a key supporter of the Russian bid while
England's delegation includes Prince William and Prime Minister
David Cameron as well as midfielder David Beckham.
Portugal Prime Minister Jose Socrates and Spanish
counterpart Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero were named as leaders
of their joint bid for 2018, with Spain's World Cup-winning
goalkeeper and captain Iker Casillas also among the delegation.
Portugal forward Cristiano Ronaldo has been unable to attend
because he needs treatment on a bruised ankle.
As expected, former United States President Bill Clinton was
to lead the American delegation bidding for 2022, heading a
committee which also included actor Morgan Freeman.
Prime Minister Kim Hwang-shik was named at the top of the
South Korean delegation bidding for 2022 and the Emir of Qatar
Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani was due to lead the Middle
Eastern country's delegation.
The Dutch-Belgian bid for 2018 included former players Ruud
Gullit and Johan Cruyff as well as the two countries' prime
Sony Corp CEO Howard Stringer leads the Japan bid for 2022,
while Australia's bid is backed by supermodel Elle Macpherson.
Champions want to roll on
Centre-back "fit enough" if not 100%
Former Chelsea and Liverpool boss poised to join Napoli, says Serie A club's president
Legend tips underdog
Ten years on, the legends speak to FFT
Your questions answered by an A to Z of legends
75% of all TV is Bale
On the road to ruin
Nike CR7 IX for you
FourFourTwo is brought to you by Haymarket Consumer Media & FourFourTwo is part of Haymarket Sport
| International Licensing | © Haymarket Media Group 2010