FIFA praises Russia bid

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FIFA inspection delegation head Harold Mayne–Nicholls has hailed the political support Russia's 2018 FIFA World Cup bid has managed to garner, but warned that work would have to start immediately on stadium redevelopment if the country was awarded hosting rights.

Russia, England, the United States, Belgium–Netherlands and Spain–Portugal are in the race to host either the World Cup's 21st or 22nd edition, whilst Japan, Australia, Qatar and South Korea have applied solely for the 2022 finals. Speaking at the end of a four–day inspection, Mayne–Nicholls praised Russia's plans and highlighted the financial guarantees for stadium redevelopment made by Prime Minister Vladimir Putin. "After four days of inspection we feel that we have all the information needed to submit a fair report about the bid of Russia for the FIFA World Cups 2018/2022, " said Mayne–Nicholls. "On our inspection visit we had the opportunity to travel to four proposed host cities for the FIFA World Cup: Saint Petersburg, Moscow, Kazan and Sochi. In each of the cities we have received full support and all relevant information concerning the preparation plans for the FIFA World Cup–such as stadiums, training camps as well as main infrastructural investment projects. "In the meeting we held with the Russian Prime Minister, Mr Putin made very clear that the Government is willing to grant us all needed state guarantees, adding 'Everything will be on time, and we can assure you, that the funds will be coming from federal and regional government budgets as well as from private sources. ' Our whole delegation group was impressed about the Prime Minister's level of interest and knowledge concerning the bid and football in general. "Mayne–Nicholls also took the opportunity to make what could be seen as thinly–veiled jibe at England 2018's organising committee, which announced earlier in the week that UK Prime Minister David Cameron will be unable to greet FIFA's inspection team when it visits the country next week. The Chilean Football Federation (FFC) president said the delegation "really appreciated that Mr Putin had interrupted his summer vacations in order to be able to meet us. "Mayne–Nicholls moved on to praise Russia's plans for offering the "kind of legacy (that) is exactly what FIFA is looking for", highlighting the planned work at all levels of football. However, he warned the Russian organising committee that work on stadiums and infrastructure would need to start in earnest should FIFA decide upon it as host of the 2018 or 2022 World Cup at the start of December. "Eventually I would like to emphasise, that in the case the FIFA Executive Committee decides in December that the World Cup will go for the first time in football history to Russia, work would need to start immediately, to guarantee that everything will be in place right in time, " he said. "The main goal would be that the world's No. 1 sporting event will help to establish a bright future for Russian football. "Russia is the fifth out of the nine bids that the FIFA delegation is visiting in the course of two months, as it looks to review on–site and deepen the understanding of each respective candidate. The delegation will have the weekend off before starting its inspection of England on Monday, and Vitaly Mutko, chairman of the bid committee and Minister of Sports, Tourism and Youth Policy, believes Russia has impressed during the inspectorate's four–day visit. "We would like to thank you for being with us to review our bid and regret that we only had a short time to familiarise you further with its various elements, " he said. "You have seen the enthusiasm of the people and how the various regions you have visited and the people in charge are behind our bid. A great deal of work is already in progress and more is still being needed, however, as we have said at the outset, we are fully determined in all our efforts to fulfil and excel the FIFA requirements and thus earn the right and privilege to host the FIFA World Cup. "On Monday 23 August 2010, England manager Fabio Capello was due to meet a six–man FIFA inspection team on the first day of the delegates' four–day visit to inspect the country's bid to host the FIFA World Cup. The FIFA team, led by Mayne–Nicholls, was set to meet the Italian at Wembley where they would tour the stadium and watch a community coaching session alongside Capello on the pitch. Before that they were also due to meet Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg, Secretary for Culture, Olympics, Media and Sport Jeremy Hunt and Sports Minister Hugh Robertson at Downing Street along with an England 2018 delegation led by chairman Geoff Thompson. 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