AP, Friday, October 9, 2009 3:45 PM
On Friday, Russia officially unveiled its bid to host the 2018 or 2022 World Cup. Pledging to restrict the large-scale event to the vast nation's European territory, the country hopes to revamp
its infrastructure and bring much-needed development to its neglected cities. Russia hopes that its bid will be strengthened by the fact that it has never hosted the tournament before. "Every
tournament should be held in a country that has not previously hosted it," said sports minister Vitaly Mutko
. "Our bid is unique ... and (winning) will enable our cities to take
on a completely different appearance."
As part of its push toward a World Cup, Russia is planning a grandiose redevelopment of cities bypassed by its oil-fueled boom of the past
decade. It is proposing 15 stadiums in 14 host cities, split into five areas of western Russia: northern, southern, central, Volga River and Urals mountain regions. In addition to building
multiple new stadiums, Russia would have to build from scratch most of the infrastructure associated with the event, such as airports, roads, hotels and hospitals. But Mutko suggests that Russia
aims to prove itself a dynamic and modern nation capable of staging the world's top-tier events. "We are aiming to show the world a new Russia, a Russia capable of inspiring," Mutko
said. Moscow hosted last year's Champions League final between Manchester United and Chelsea. And the country will stage the 2014 Winter Olympics in the Black Sea resort of Sochi.
bidders for the 2018 and 2022 World Cups are England, the United States, Australia and Japan, along with joint bids from Spain and Portugal and also Netherlands and Belgium. Indonesia, South Korea
and Qatar are bidding for 2022 only. FIFA plans to announce the hosts on Dec. 2, 2010.
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