“I was sure that it would come out just like this since our [Russian] bidding was absolutely honest,” Mutko said. “The concept of the World Cup in Russia is interesting. Our trumps are the reliable state guarantees, the heritage, which will be left after the world championship, and, of course, the rich history of our football.”
“We were never engaged in any kind of backstage games,” Mutko said. “I am glad that the line was drawn in this story.”
Hans-Joachim Eckert, the chairman of the FIFA adjudicatory chamber of the independent Ethics Committee, said in his statement on Thursday that the bidding and the selection process to determine the hosts for the 2018 and 2022 World Cups, which are Russia and Qatar respectively, were held in line with all the necessary regulations.
“As such, FIFA looks forward to continuing the preparations for Russia 2018 and Qatar 2022, which are already well underway,” the statement added.
Russia and Qatar won the bids to host the 2018 and 2022 World Cup tournaments in 2010. FIFA’s investigation was launched following British media allegations that former FIFA vice president Jack Warner was paid almost $2 million from a Qatari firm shortly after the world's richest country per capita won the 2022 World Cup bid.
During the year-long investigation, FIFA officials interviewed "more than 75 witnesses and compiled a record that, in addition to audio recordings from interviews, includes more than 200,000 pages of relevant material," according to FIFA.Russia won the bid to host the football competition more than three years ago in a tight race against a joint challenge from England, Portugal and Spain and the combined bid by Belgium and The Netherlands.
Shortly before Brazil’s Rio de Janeiro dropped the curtains on the 2014 World Cup with the final Germany-Argentina clash in July, the baton of global football tournament’s hosting nations passed to Russia. The symbolic handover ceremony of the right to host the competition was held at the iconic 74,700-seat Maracana Stadium in Rio, attended by FIFA President Sepp Blatter, Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff and Russia's President Putin.
Following an official ceremony held in September 2012 and attended by Blatter, Russia eventually selected 11 from an earlier proposed 13 cities, excluding Krasnodar and Yaroslavl. The final list of 2018 World Cup host cities assembles Moscow, St. Petersburg, Sochi, Kazan, Saransk, Kaliningrad, Volgograd, Rostov-on-Don, Nizhny Novgorod, Yekaterinburg and Samara.
A joint delegation of FIFA representatives and Russia’s Local Organizing Committee inspected on October 16-23 the construction and the state of readiness of Russian stadiums, which were selected to host the World Cup matches in 2018. Christian Unger, the head of FIFA 2018 football championship preparation department, said following the delegation’s visit that he was satisfied with Russia’s preparations for the world championship.