Russia has won the rights to hoost the 2018 World Cup, it was announced moments ago. Confirming speculation that had leaked out in the minutes before FIFA President Sepp Blatter's announcement, Russia beat out England, Spain-Portugal, and Netherlands-Belgium to win the rights to host it's first World Cup.
Russia has been a slight favorite to win the hosting rights until the last few days. Then, England's bid had surged back into contention, while some reports had seen Spain-Portugal's bid as emboldened. Instead, what had been suspected over the last year ends up playing out, with the Russians winning the rights to hold the world's biggest sporting event.
In accepted the honor, Russian representatives thanked the crowd in Zurich for entrusting the tournament to the first time host. Russia still faces significant infrastructure challenges, needing improvements with stadia, transportation, and hospitality. However, their current readiness was seen as a secondary issue to taking the tournament to a new part of the world, something that has always been one of Blatter's stated goals.
Sepp Blatter, in his final remarks congratulating Russia, expressed hopes that the World Cup will help organize soccer in that region of the world.