ZURICH (Reuters) - Russia won the right to put on the 2018 World Cup and Qatar will stage the 2022 finals, both first-time hosts, FIFA president Sepp Blatter said on Thursday.
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 was granted the 2018 finals, beating the challenge of three other European bidders, England and the joint bids of Netherlands/Belgium and Spain/Portugal.
Qatar took the honours for 2022 over rivals Australia, Japan, South Korea and the United States.
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.”
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 Middle East”
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 members.
The executive committee, reduced to 22 after two were suspended over the allegations, voted in secret. No details of the counts were made available by FIFA but bid member Gary Lineker told Reuters England had gone out in the first round of voting for 2018.
It was the first time FIFA had carried out a vote for two World Cup finals at the same time.