ZURICH - Russia invited FIFA to bury old
stereotypes and help build a new country as it closed out
Thursday's presentations of candidates to host the 2018 World
Russia's final pitch included a video featuring a small boy
called Sasha who dreamed he scored the winning goal in the World
Cup final against Italy. Another video featured footballs
raining down on the country.
With Vladimir Putin choosing not to take part, First Deputy
Prime Minister Igor Shuvalov concluded a presentation held just
before FIFA's 22 executive committee members were to decide on
the hosts for the 2018 and 2022 World Cups. Russia is up against
England and joint-bids from Netherlands/Belgium and
"Russia has had many tragic days and history in the last
century," he said. "But for 20 years we have been building a new
country. We can achieve that better and quicker with your help."
Alexei Sorokin, the bid's CEO, quoted 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 exits."
There were also speeches from Olympic pole vault champion
Yelena Isinbayeva and Andrei Arshavin, captain of the Russian
national side, the latter recalling how he had a troubled
childhood before football put him straight.
Isinbayeva said: "I broke 27 world records in the pole
vault, most of the time one centimetre by one. Hosting the 2018
World Cup in Russia would be like setting another world record
but the entire country of Russia will achieve it one big leap."
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