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THE contest to host the 2018 World Cup was "fair", Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin insisted last night.

Putin, who did not go to Zurich until after Russia was declared the winner, said the country was "honoured" by FIFA's decision and dismissed suggestions England's bid was cheated.

He said: "Each bid is very special and significant.

"Each bid is a challenge and we are honoured to win in this tough and fair fight."

Mr Putin dismissed the suggestion that England had been "cheated" out of holding the World Cup.

He replied: "No, I don't think.

"You know, Great Britain is a great football country and in Russia we have a lot of fans of your football in general and your football players in particular.."

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.

He said: "You can take my word for it that the 2018 World Cup in Russia will be up to the highest standards.

"New modern stadiums and facilities will be built in time and to perfection."
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Title Annotation:Sport
Publication:Daily Post (Liverpool, England)
Geographic Code:4EXRU
Date:Dec 3, 2010
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