jueves, 2 de diciembre de 2010

Fifa awards 2018 World Cup to Russia, Qatar to host 2022 event

Fifa's executive committee voted in a secret ballot on December 2 to award the 2018 World Cup to Russia, dashing the hopes of rival bids put forth by England, Spain and Portugal, Belgium and The Netherlands.

It was not immediately clear how many rounds of voting it took to designate the winner, but the final announcement was delayed with about half an hour beyond the initial forecasts, suggesting a close race.

Russia won the 2018 race despite the last-minute withdrawal of Russian prime minister Vladimir Putin, credited with winning the 2014 winter Olympics for Sochi, who did not travel to Zurich for the final presentation and the announcement.
"In football we learn to win and this is easy, in football we also learn to lose and this is not so easy," Fifa president Sepp Blatter told the audience prior to the announcement.

The 2022 World Cup was awarded to Qatar, which will be the first Middle Eastern country to host the biggest football tournament in the world, defeating competition from the US, Australia, Japan, South Korea.

Neither Russia, nor Qatar have hosted the tournament before, although Moscow has hosted summer Olympic Games in 1980 and Sochi will host the winter Olympics in 2014.

The bidders for the 2018 World made their final presentations at Fifa's snow-covered headquarters in Zurich earlier in the morning, a day after the 2022 World Cup bidders did the same.

The joint bid by The Netherlands and Belgium – neither country has hosted the World Cup, but the two countries staged the 2000 European championship – called on a host of great former players to emphasise the wealth of tradition that the bid would deliver, with Ruud Gullit and Johan Cruyff representing The Netherlands and Jean-Marie Pfaff speaking for Belgium. However, the Dutch government's unwillingness to extend wide-reaching powers to Fifa for the duration of the tournament had made the bid an outsider from the very start.

Spain and Portugal have each hosted major tournaments in the past (the 1982 World Cup and the 1964 European championship for Spain and the 2004 European championship in Portugal's case) but teamed up to bid to host the 2018 World Cup. Teir bid was bolstered by the national team's success at the 2010 World Cup in South Africa, winning the tournament against rival bidder The Netherlands, but the focus of the two countries' presentation was on their tourist appeal and the ample accomodations that could be offered to visiting fans.

England's presentation, which many fans feared was hamstrung by the corruption revelations in UK press, tried to press the success of its Premier League, the passion of its fans, the top-class facilities, as well as guaranteeing the event would be a commercial success. Furthermore, the bid committed to match Fifa's spending on football as a social development tool around the world.

Russia's bid presentation also promised to deliver new top-notch facilities and infrastructure in time for 2018 and was the only bidding country to feature a woman as part of its presentation, Olympic champion Yelena Isinbaeva.

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