In a pair of surprises, soccer's international governing body FIFA announced Thursday its selection of Russia to host the 2018 World Cup and Qatar to host the 2022 World Cup. Each country stands to reap billions of dollars and heaps of international attention as host of what many call the world's biggest sporting event.
In a scandal-marred voting process, each future host nation emphasized the importance for FIFA to explore new territories and expand its outreach. Neither country, neither region (Eastern Europe, the Middle East) in fact, has ever hosted a World Cup.
Russia beat out bids from England, the Netherlands/Belgium, and Portugal/Spain.
Qatar beat out bids from the USA, Australia, Japan and South Korea.
Upon learning of FIFA's decision, CBS News correspondent Mark Knoller said President Barack Obama was disappointed.
"I think it was the wrong decision," Obama said, adding that the US will make it to the finals wherever the World Cup is held.
Russia's selection came despite the no-show of Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, but his clout still had an impact on FIFA's 22 voters, the Associated Press reports.
Qatar brings the World Cup to the smallest host ever but one which has unparalleled financial clout to stage the world's biggest single-sport event. It overcame objections about holding the games in desert heat and asked FIFA to take a "bold gamble," the AP reports.
"We go to new lands," FIFA President Sepp Blatter said. "The Arabic world was waiting a long time. Now they have it."
The United States and Australia had been tipped as favorites alongside Qatar for 2022.
After three days of high anxiety when England sent Prime Minister David Cameron, Prince William and David Beckham for intense lobbying and the United States counted on the aura of former President Bill Clinton, none were a match for the novelty promised by Qatar and Russia, reports the AP.
"Thank you for believing in change," said Qatar's Emir, Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al-Thani.
Qatar will stage a World Cup in and around Doha in a desert summer but promises state-of-the-art technology to cool fans and players alike, the AP reports.
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