Russia, Qatar are 2018, 2022 World Cup Hosts

FIFA-World-Cup-TrophyTwo years of lobbying for the right to host the World Cup in 2018 and 2022 finally ended after FIFA chief Sepp Blatter announced the winners in Zurich, Switzerland, on Thursday.

The FIFA picked Russia as the 2018 host, a decision considered an upset following Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin’s decision not to join the country’s lobbying group. England, long considered a top runner to host the 2018 World Cup, was eliminated in the first round of voting. Russian Deputy Prime Minister Igor Shuvalov said FIFA made the right choice by picking the former Soviet superpower. “You have entrusted us with the FIFA World Cup for 2018 and I can promise, we all can promise, you will never regret it,” Shuvalov said.

Meanwhile, Qatar stunned its more established competitors for the hosting job of the 2022 World Cup, prevailing over the United States, Australia, South Korea, and Japan. It was a remarkable fit for the tiny Gulf state considering that the odds were heavily against it. The United States for one had no-less-than former President Bill Clinton as one of its lobbyists.

The culmination of the two-year lobbying frenzy means that the next two World Cups after the 2014 edition in Brazil will be handled by first-time hosts.