ZURICH - FIFA gave its ultimate recognition
to emerging markets on Thursday when they awarded the 2018 and
2022 editions of the prestigious and lucrative World Cup finals to Russia and Qatar.
Russia won the right to put on the 2018 World Cup, the first
time it will have been staged in Eastern Europe after 10
editions in the western half of the continent.
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Qatar will stage the 2022 finals, a first both for the
Middle East and for an Arab country. It will also be the
smallest nation ever to host the World Cup with a population of
less than a million.
FIFA President Sepp Blatter, who announced the winners after
a vote of his executive committee in the Swiss financial
capital, 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."
NEWS: Full breakdown of voting
This year's World Cup was held in South Africa, the first
time it had been held on the African continent.
Football's governing body'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.
LONG-TIME FRONT RUNNERS
Russia defeated the challenge of three other European
bidders, England and the joint bids of Netherlands/Belgium and
They were long-time among the front runners but the
non-appearance of Prime Minister Vladimir Putin for campaigning
before the vote in Zurich coupled with U.S. diplomatic cables
which emerged on Wikileaks describing Russia as a "corrupt
autocracy" appeared to have damaged their bid in the past 24
hours, according to some observers in Zurich.
Qatar took the honours for 2022 over rivals Australia,
Japan, South Korea and the United States.
They committed in their bid document to FIFA building nine
new stadiums and renovating three existing grounds at a cost of
around $3 billion.
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."
Qatar bid chief Sheikh Mohammed bin Hamad Al-Thani told the
FIFA executive: "Thank you for backing us and expanding the
game. You will be proud of us and you will be proud of the
The voting process took place against a highly charged
background after British media outlets made allegations of
corruption against a number of FIFA's executive committee
The executive committee, reduced to 22 after two were
suspended over the allegations, voted in secret. No details of
the counts were made available immediately by FIFA but bid
member Gary Lineker told Reuters that England had gone out in
the first round of voting for 2018.
Iberian bid leader Miguel Angel Lopez said Russia had gained
an absolute majority on the second round of voting for 2018,
eliminating the two joint bids, including his own.
Putin, who said on Wednesday he would not go to Zurich
because of an "unscrupulous" campaign to smear FIFA, said
earlier on Thursday he would fly straight to Zurich if Russia
The U.S. delegation said there had been four rounds of
voting for the 2022 event and that Qatar and themselves had been
in the final showdown.
It was the first time FIFA had carried out a vote for two
World Cup finals at the same time.
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