Russia launches bid to host 2018 World Cup

MOSCOW: Russia on Friday launched its bid for the right to host either the 2018 or the 2022 football World Cup.

Russian Sports Minister Vitaly Mutko, who also presides the Russian Football Union (RFU), said that the bid was based on developing the football infrastructure in 14 candidate cities.

"If and when FIFA approve our bid we will choose 12 host cities where the new stadiums will be built," Mutko said.

"I believe Russia is capable of hosting the football World Cup at the best possible level."

The minister however refused to disclose the budget of the Russian plans of hosting the event saying that RFU should work out and present a convincing bid to the world's ruling football body FIFA ahead of calculating the expenses.

He said that Russia and FIFA should sign the bid agreement on December 11, 2009 at the latest, adding that the successful bidders for the 2018 and 2022 World Cups would be announced in December 2010.

"We are bidding to host both events but the 2018 World Cup is our top priority," Mutko said.

"And I believe that the country, which is bidding to host the World Cup for the first time, should have a certain advantage over their rivals."

FIFA chief Sepp Blatter is expected to visit Russia next week to meet Prime Minister Vladimir Putin to ensure that the Russian bid will receive full givernmental support and inspect the country's existing football faciliites and infrastructure.

Earlier this year FIFA invited countries to express interest in hosting the World Cup in either or both 2018 and 2022 and received 11 bids.

Australia, China, England, Indonesia, Mexico, Qatar, Japan, the United States and Spain were also among the countries that expressed their interest in bidding for the World Cup before Mexico announced their decision to withdraw from the race.

Belgium and the Netherlands were considering a joint bid.

FIFA requires a World Cup host to have about 12 stadiums with more than 40,000 seats each, one of them with more than 80,000 seats.

African countries are precluded from bidding for the 2018 tournament as the next World Cup, in 2010, will be staged in South Africa.

Latin American countries are ruled out of competition for both 2018 and 2022 as Brazil is to host the 2014 event.

The region that provides the host in 2018 will be excluded from consideration for 2022.