MOSCOW, September 29 (RIA Novosti)
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Russia is ahead of schedule with its plans for hosting the 2018 World Cup, FIFA president Sepp Blatter said Saturday.
In 2010, Russia beat a bid from England and two joint bids, one from Portugal and Spain, the other from Belgium and the Netherlands, to host the World Cup.
The 11 host cities are to be announced Saturday.
“We are far away from our program because you are much more advanced,” Blatter said in televised comments.
He praised President Vladimir Putin and the Russian parliament, the Duma, for their support.
“I am convinced that it will be a great success because not only the people and youth here are behind it, but also the president, the Duma [Russia’s parliament], the local organizing committee, the local footballers here, all footballers, they are behind this World Cup.”
“It must be a big success.”
Moscow is to host the final in the vast Luzhniki stadium with the other venues spread across Russia’s European territory.
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The growing outright rivalry between the United States and China gives Russia more foreign policy weight, enabling it to assume the role of a balancer. So far it has been doing so rather skillfully. Today it may participate in a joint naval exercise with China that Beijing positions as outwardly anti-American. But tomorrow it can team up with the naval forces of the Old World.