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Russia to host 2018 World Cup and Qatar 2022

After one of the toughest bidding competitions in World Cup history, Russia has fended off rival bids from England and joint bids from Belgium/Netherlands and Spain/Portugal to win rights to has Fifa World Cup. Qatar will host the 2022 World Cup - the first ever Middle East nation to host a World Cup.

Fifa President Sepp Blatter made the announcement at Fifa HQ in Zurich following a vote by 22 top officials.

He said: “We will travel to two completely new countries. There has never been a World Cup in Russia or elsewhere in Eastern Europe.”

“I’m clearly a satisfied man at the moment. Football is moving in the right direction and these decisions make me a happy FIFA president.”

“I congratulate Russia. The tournament will do a tremendous amount of good for the continent,” he said.

FIFA has released the voting figures which showed England won only one other vote apart from Britain’s FIFA vice-president Geoff Thompson. In the first round Holland/Belgium secured four, Spain/Portugal seven and Russia nine.

The victory comes despite yesterday Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin making a shock announcement, saying he would not be attending the announcement in Zurich, claiming that Fifa has been the victim of a smear campaign and should be left to make its decision “in peace and without any outside pressure”. Instead he is staying in Moscow to attend to domestic affairs.

England’s bid ambassadors Prime Minister David Cameron, Prince William and Ex-England captain David Beckham attended the announcement but only gained two bids. Their campaign had been engulfed in controversy, and included allegations by the British press against governing body Fifa over corruption.

And on the eve of Thursday’s vote, there was an unwelcome reminder of the dark days of English football, with violence at the end of Birmingham’s win over local rivals Aston Villa at St Andrew’s in the Carling Cup with police in riot gear clearing fans off the pitch.

The Holland-Belgium bid was also eliminated in the first round, but still scraped two more votes than England. Despite its strong footballing heritage, in particular Holland’s excellent track record in major competitions, its bid was always considered the outsider in the build up to the announcement.

Spain and Portugal’s joint bid was also defeated despite the Iberian nations boasting the highest stadium capacities of all the 2018 contenders. They also had a brilliant networker in Angel Maria Villar Llona, who rallied the support of Qatar’s Mohamed Bin Hammam.

They had hoped that Cristiano Ronaldo would have made an appearance, but the injured Real Madrid forward was unable to attend.

The World Cup 2018 prize for Russia is expected to deliver a windfall in travel and tourism receipts. Sport Tourism is travel industry’s fastest growing sector, and will contribute an astonishing 14% of overall travel and tourism receipts by the end of the year, according to World Sport Destination Expo, the only global exhibition and business forum dedicated to showcasing the full spectrum of Sport Tourism related products and services..

At a time when some traditional tourism trends are in decline, Sport Tourism continues to flourish and is set to grow exponentially in the next decade.

Yet the complex mechanics of Sport Tourism has not yet been fully understood or realised.  The annual WSDE aims to present the future business deals and source new contacts and markets, but also to gain invaluable insights from the advanced knowledge of market leaders.

WSDE will take place in Bangkok, capital city and business hub of the magnificent Kingdom of Thailand from 27-30 September 2011. This year it was co-located in Johanessburg alongside the Fifa 2010 World Cup.