Russia and Qatar will make their debuts as World Cup hosts after Fifa’s 22-member panel voted to award the nations the 2018 and 2022 finals respectively.
Fifa president Sepp Blatter announced the eagerly anticipated results in Zurich, Switzerland, on Thursday afternoon.
Russia beat competition from England, Netherlands/Belgium and Spain/Portugal. Deputy Prime Minister Igor Shuvalov celebrated by saying: “You have entrusted us with the Fifa World Cup for 2018 and I can promise, we all can promise, you will never regret it. Let us make history together.”
Qatar’s staging of the tournament had come in for some criticism because of the weather in the country during June and July, when temperatures can rise as high as 50 degrees Celsius, while the close proximity of the stadiums had also raised some questions.
England’s bid to host the 2018 finals may have suffered from a backlash against corruption investigations into Fifa members by BBC Panorama and the Sunday Times over the last two months.
Blatter said: “We go to new lands. Never has the World Cup been in Russia and Eastern Europe, and the Middle East and Arabic world have been waiting for a long time so I’m a happy president when we talk about the development of football.”
Qatar bid chief Sheikh Mohammed bin Hamad Al-Thani told the Fifa executive: “Thank you for backing us and expanding the game. You will be proud of us and you will be proud of the Middle East.”
It was the first time Fifa had carried out a vote for two World Cup finals at the same time.
Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin said on Thursday he was leaving for Zurich to thank soccer governing body Fifa for awarding Russia the right to host the 2018 soccer World Cup finals.
“This decision shows that Russia is trusted,” Putin told reporters before leaving for the airport to fly to Zurich.
“Hurrah! Victory!,” Russian President Dmitry Medvedev said in a Twitter post on the Fifa decision.
Finance Minister Alexei Kudrin said Russia will spend significantly less on preparations of the 2018 World Cup than on the organisation of the 2014 Winter Olympics.
“It’ll be significantly less,” Kudrin said. “We have a clear plan on assigning sites.”