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By ESPN Staff

Russia tables bid to be World Cup hosts

Russia has officially launched its bid to host the World Cup in either 2018 or 2022.

Sports minister Vitaly Mutko, also president of the Russian Football Union, presented the bid at its official launch at GUM department store, located on Red Square in one of Moscow's most iconic buildings.

England are also in the running along with Australia, USA, Japan and joint campaigns from Spain/Portugal and Holland/Belgium, but Mutko is hopeful a successful Russia bid would "inspire Eastern Europe''.

"This is an important initiative, not only for football, but for the entire nation,'' he said on www.russia2018-2022.com. "Hosting the World Cup will have a positive impact upon many millions of Russian youth and create a legacy of sporting, economic and personal growth through football.

"Russia opens up a historic choice to FIFA as it represents a host country from the former Soviet bloc to inspire Eastern Europe. It also gives the opportunity to place the 2018/2022 World Cup in a country blending the best of Europe and Asia, offering fans a compelling, exciting host country that is known for its traditional hospitality.

"In recent years, Russia has been very much about football. Along with the Olympic Games, it is one of the most important projects in the world. To host this tournament is a great honour and responsibility.''

The Russians will present a 1,200-word document to FIFA on May 14 next year, with the world governing body set to decide on the host nations for both 2018 and 2022 in December 2010.

Mutko added: "The main thing (is) that we can use the results of the work to be done to improve the infrastructure, the development of football. We have great respect for all applicants.''

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