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Dec 2, 2010

Putin rejects FIFA corruption claims

Russian Prime Minister Valdimir Putin insists his country won a "tough and fair fight" after they beat off competition to win the right to host the 2018 World Cup and again rejected claims that corruption was rife in the bidding process.

• Russia and Qatar win hosting race
• Russia revels in 2018 award
• Brewin: Old charges, new frontiers
• USA woe at 2022 failure
• Qatar joy at bid success
• Sir Dave stunned at decision

Putin intially refused to attend the ceremony in Zurich - in protest at accusations made in the English media about financial impropriety in world football's governing body - but flew in to join the celebrations when it was announced that Russia had been selected ahead of England, Spain/Portugal and Netherlands/Belgium.

"We are honoured to win in this tough and fair fight," Putin said. "Thank you for supporting Russia. Together let us make sure that football supports fair play, tolerance, honour."

Putin maintained that his decision to stay away from the final presentations on the morning of the announcement was the right one.

"I did this out of respect," he said. "There was unacceptable campaigning that was deployed for the World Cup in 2018. People were accused of corruption. They were accused without any grounds, without any reasons, no justifications."

The former Russian President's absence had cast doubt over his nation's bid, especially as the leaders of the other competing nations were in attendance, but the worries were unjustified as Russia cruised through the voting to be crowned World Cup hosts.

Describing the power of football to make a difference in the world "for the better'', Putin pledged a successful World Cup in eight years' time.

"You can take my word for it that the 2018 World Cup in Russia will be up to the highest standards," he said. "New modern stadiums and facilities will be built in time and to perfection.

"We are eager to do our best to secure the comfort and safety of our guests.

"Our vision corresponded to the FIFA philosophy and this philosophy is to enhance the borders of world football by engaging new territories, new countries."

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