Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin could lead Russia's bid to host the 2018 football World Cup, a first deputy prime minister said Wednesday.
Requests by countries to host the 2018 and 2022 FIFA World Cups had to be submitted to FIFA (International Federation of Association Football) by February 2009 and will be considered in December 2010 in Zurich, Switzerland. Russia submitted its bidding intention in time, proposing 13 cities as venues.
"You, Vladimir Vladimirovich [Putin], have along with others received the invitation to take a relevant part in the ceremony. Everyone remembers your work when submitting our 2014 Sochi bid," said First Deputy Prime Minister Igor Shuvalov, who heads the bid organizing committee.
Shuvalov added that within FIFA there were hopes that the prime minister would play a major role. Putin did not commit himself, encouraging his deputy not to waste time waiting until state funding guarantees were in place.
"It is better to start now, not to wait until the papers are ready," Putin said, stressing that everything was on schedule.
Putin is a noted sports fan and participant, and was the driving force behind Russia's successful bid to bring the 2014 Winter Olympic Games to Sochi. He took the unprecedented step of delivering a speech in English at the International Olympic Committee meeting in Guatemala to select the host city, and was credited with swaying delegates to vote for the southern Russian resort.
The cost of building the facilities and infrastructure for the Sochi 2014 Games is estimated at more than $30 billion.
FIFA initially registered 11 contenders to host the 2018 and 2022 World Cups, but Mexico has since withdrawn its candidacy. Besides Russia, the bidders include England, Australia, Japan and the United States, with joint bids from Belgium and the Netherlands and Spain and Portugal. Indonesia, South Korea and Qatar are bidding to hold only the 2022 event.
The World Cup host should have 11-12 stadiums capable of housing 40,000 people and one capable of housing 80,000. Moscow's Luzhniki stadium alone is the closest to the requirement. It can house 78,000.
Russia intends to build several stadiums to meet the requirements. Five World Cup-level stadiums are to be ready by 2013 - two in Moscow and one apiece in St. Petersburg, Kazan and Sochi.
Under FIFA's rotation rules, the same continent cannot host consecutive World Cups, meaning that if England or one of the joint European bids was awarded the 2018 tournament then Russia would not be eligible to host the 2022 event.
MOSCOW, March 17 (RIA Novosti)