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Putin orders sports minister to prepare bid for 2018 World Cup

MOSCOW, May 5 (RIA Novosti) - Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin ordered on Tuesday the country's sports minister to ready Russia's proposal for the right to host the 2018 World Cup.

At a meeting in Moscow, Putin told Vitaly Mutko to "prepare a bid for Russia to hold the 2018 World Cup."

Mutko, who earlier told RIA Novosti that a final decision on the bid would be taken in September, said that 10 cities with suitable infrastructure would be necessary to hold the tournament. He also said a successful bid would boost the Russian tourist industry.

"A bid to hold the World Cup is not a simple decision for the sports ministry or for the government as there are certain financial problems. But we need to look ahead. Crises come and go, but football remains," he said in April.

The 2018 World Cup is likely to be awarded to a European nation, as the 2010 World Cup is to be held in South Africa and the 2014 competition in Brazil.

According to a report earlier submitted by Mutko, who is also the head of Russian football's governing body, the country is ready to spend some $10 billion on the tournament.

Five World Cup-level stadiums, according to Mutko's report, will be ready by 2013 - two in Moscow and one apiece in St. Petersburg, Kazan and Sochi, due to host the 2014 Winter Olympics.

In addition to Russia, Australia, Belgium and the Netherlands, England, Indonesia, Japan, Mexico, Spain and Portugal, and the United States have submitted applications to hold both the 2018 and the 2022 competitions, while South Korea and Qatar have applied for just the 2022 World Cup, FIFA said in March.

Russia's main rival for the right to hold the 2018 competition is likely to be England, which has not hosted the World Cup since 1966. Russia's bid may have been damaged by problems encountered by Euro 2012 joint hosts Poland and Ukraine in their preparations for the competition. Euro 2012 is the first time a major soccer tournament has been awarded to Eastern European nations.

The host countries for the 2018 and 2022 World Cups will be announced by FIFA in December 2010. Under FIFA's new rotation rules, the same continent cannot host consecutive World Cups, meaning that if England were awarded the 2018 tournament then Russia would not be eligible for the 2022 finals.

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