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Russia, Qatar win race to host World Cups as FIFA spreads its vision

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Qatar promises big things for World Cup
  • Russia to host 2018 World Cup after winning vote by FIFA executive committee
  • It headed off England and joint bids from Spain-Portugal and Holland-Belgium
  • Qatar will host the 2022 event, beating bids from South Korea, Japan, Australia and U.S.
  • Both countries will be hosting football's biggest tournament for the first time

(CNN) -- Russia and Qatar will host soccer's biggest tournament, the FIFA World Cup, for the first time in 2018 and 2022 respectively.

Russia headed off 1966 host England and joint presentations from Spain-Portugal and Holland-Belgium in Thursday's vote at FIFA headquarters in Switzerland.

Qatar won the right to host the 2022 tournament ahead of bids from the United States, South Korea, Japan and Australia.

Russian prime minister Vladimir Putin decided against attending the ceremony in Zurich, but his deputy Igor Shuvalov was present to accept the first successful bid from Eastern Europe.

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"You have entrusted us with the FIFA World Cup for 2018 and I can promise that you will never regret it. Let us make history together," Shuvalov told the assembled delegates.

Putin later flew to Zurich to address the world's assembled media.

"This sport makes a positive difference -- 2018 will be fantastic," the former Russian president said.

"We will build new stadiums and do our best to make the World Cup safe and enjoyable for everyone. We will allow all football fans to enter the country without a visa in order to enjoy the tournament and to get to know Russia and its history and culture."

Sheikh Mohammed bin Hamad Al-Thani, the son of Qatar's emir and head of the emirate's bid team, said he was looking forward to the first time a Middle Eastern nation hosts the event.

"Thank you for believing in change, for expanding the game and for giving Qatar a chance. You will be proud of us -- and you will be proud of the Middle East. I promise you this," he said.

Qatar's World Cup vision

FIFA president Sepp Blatter confirmed that the ruling body's desire to grow the sport around the world played a big part in the committee's thinking.

"I have to say thanks to the executive committee because for 2018 and 2022 we go to new lands, because the FIFA World Cup has never been in eastern Europe or the Middle East. So, I'm a happy president when we speak of the development of football," he said.

"But I have to give big compliments to all the bidders for the big job they have done and the messages they have delivered. All have delivered the message that football is more than just a game. Football is not only about winning -- it is also a school of life where you must learn to lose, and that is not easy."

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CNN's Moscow-based correspondent Matthew Chance said the decision had been received with great jubilation in Russia, where the government has pledged billions of dollars to build new stadiums and infrastructure.

It has already begun preparing to host the Winter Olympics in Sochi in 2014.

"This is a huge boom for the Russian economy -- it is going to mean tens of billions of dollars put into infrastructure and will give the country the incentive they need to meet their modernization plans," he reported.

"There is also a huge emotional pull for the people of this country. It is very intriguing the tactics used from the Russians to secure the bid. England's bid had prime minister David Cameron and David Beckham to give it the celebrity X-factor, but Putin just stayed in Russia to wait for the result of the vote."

Qatar's victory came despite several obstacles being flagged up in FIFA technical report before the vote, including the region's intense heat at the time the tournament will be held in June-July and a lack of existing infrastructure.

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"Logistics were talked about, but Qatar said we can do that, we will build enough hotels, enough stadiums," CNN's Sara Sidner reported from Doha after the announcement.

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"The feeling here is a sense of achievement, the sense that Qatar is an important country. People here are very proud. There was a little bit of surprise -- they could just not believe that Qatar was called, but there were some very big cheers.

"When you look at Qatar as a country, it has a small population and most are ex-pats, but there a lot of fans here. They believe people will come here, they will have plenty of facilities and they will have the climate conditioned -- and they will put on a fantastic show.

"They are saying that people do not need to be afraid -- we are going to open up to the world and the world should open up to us."

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This year's World Cup was held on the African continent for the first time, while the next one in 2014 will be in Brazil, which was last host in 1950.

CNN World Sport anchor Pedro Pinto said he was surprised that FIFA again chose to seek new territories after South Africa 2010 and Japan and South Korea in 2002.

"To risk it again for two consecutive years is quite amazing. Most of the world's media here is surprised," he said from Zurich.

Russia won nine of the 22 votes in the first round of voting, with Spain-Portugal earning seven, Holland-Belgium four and England two.

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In the second round, Russia earned a majority of 13 ahead of the Iberian bid (7) and that of the Low Countries (2).

The 2022 vote went to four rounds, with Australia eliminated in the first, Japan the second and then South Korea.

Qatar triumphed with 14 votes to the Americans' eight in the decider.

The build-up to the vote was overshadowed by allegations of corruption against FIFA delegates.

Two executive committee members and four other officials were suspended after being accused of offering their votes for sale following an undercover investigation by a British newspaper.

A program by the BBC on Monday alleged that three current executive committee members accepted bribes more than a decade ago.

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