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A government guarantee of support for Russia's
A government guarantee of support for Russia's bid to hold the 2018 World Cup means that the country's dream of hosting football's top event is closer to coming true, Russia's minister for sport has said.

"You are well aware of course of FIFA's requirements - it is impossible to bid for the right to hold the World Cup without a state guarantee. That guarantee was received yesterday in a meeting with Prime Minister Vladimir Putin," Vitaly Mutko, who is also head of Russian football's governing body, told the Ves Sport agency.

"This means we are closer to realizing our dream of holding the 2018 World Cup," he added.

Mutko also said that Russia would now prepare a full bid to send to FIFA by September 19.

"I absolutely agree with the prime minister - the World Cup would be more than a strictly footballing event for Russia. It would have great economic and social significance;" Mutko went on, adding that a successful bid would mean a complete overhaul of infrastructure in those cities chosen to host matches.

Russia's main rival for the right to hold the 2018 competition is likely to be England, which has not hosted the World Cup since 1966. Russia's bid may have been damaged by problems encountered by Euro 2012 joint hosts Poland and Ukraine in their preparations for the competition. Euro 2012 is the first time a major soccer tournament has been awarded to Eastern European nations.

Australia and a joint Spanish-Portuguese bid are also expected to be serious contenders.

The host countries for the 2018 and 2022 World Cups will be announced by FIFA in December 2010. Under FIFA's new rotation rules, the same continent cannot host consecutive World Cups, meaning that if England were awarded the 2018 tournament then Russia would not be eligible for the 2022 finals.

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