Russia has been selected as host of the 2018 World Cup soccer tournament.
International soccer body FIFA’s executive committee chose Russia over England and joint bids by Spain-Portugal and Netherlands-Belgium in a secret vote Thursday.
Qatar was chosen to host the 2022 World Cup, beating a bid by the U.S. to bring the soccer showcase Stateside for the first time since 1994. Australia, Japan and South Korea were the other contenders.
Russians are avid soccer fans, making TV rights for screening games big business.
Two years ago, when England played Russia in Moscow in the Championship League, more than 50,000 England fans flew to Moscow, and the match was aired live across the country,
Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin — who, like President Dmitry Medvedev, supports Zenit St. Petersburg — left for Zurich Thursday night to meet FIFA officials to begin discussions on preparing Russia to host the tourney.
The 2014 tourney will be held in Brazil.