Putin ready to fly to Zurich
Bid team make final plea to Fifa's executive committee
Last Updated: 02/12/10 1:20pm
Putin: Ready to fly to Zurich
Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin will fly out to Zurich if his country wins the vote to host the 2018 World Cup finals.
Fifa are expected to announce the hosts for the 2018 World Cup at 3pm on Thursday and you can follow the build-up and reaction with Sky Sports News HD and skysports.com. We have reporters in Zurich who will bring you all the news from England's bid team first while you can join live, interactive coverage on skysports.com from 2pm as we count down to the big announcement.
Putin was not in Zurich on Thursday morning when Russia's bid team delivered its final plea to Fifa executive committee members in the race to host the tournament.
His absence from the final stages of lobbying for votes contributed to making England favourites to stage the finals in 2018, with Russia having previously been expected to win the contest.
However, a spokesman has confirmed that Putin will travel to Zurich immediately, if Russia's bid proves to be successful on Thursday afternoon.
Meanwhile, Russia's Fifa member Vitaly Mutko pointed out that Eastern Europe has never hosted the World Cup after helping to deliver his nation's plea.
Mutko said: "Twenty one years ago the Berlin Wall was broken. Today we can break another symbolic wall and open a new era in football together.
"Russia represents new horizons for Fifa, millions of new hearts and minds and a great legacy after the World Cup, great new stadiums and millions of boys and girls embracing the game.
"Russia's economy is large and growing, and Russia's sports market is developing markedly."
Bid chief executive Alexei Sorokin even quoted Winston Churchill's remark of Russia being "a riddle wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma."
Sorokin said: "To some extent I can understand this perception as we are a bridge between the eastern and western world.
"I can also tell you the Russia to which Sir Winston referred is a Russia that no longer exists. A new Russia is looking forward to harnessing the power of world football to move it forward.
"This could be a game-changer for Russia and for Fifa."
The presentation was concluded by Deputy Prime Minister Igor Shuvalov who returned to the theme of taking the World Cup to a new territory.
Shuvalov said: "We deserve it, we represent part of the world which has never hosted the World Cup - with the former Soviet republics we represent 200million people.
"The World Cup will help Russia to overcome all the tragic days and tragic history we had in the last century. Choosing Russia you have no risk at all - we are very stable and financially we have huge reserves.
"But our major wealth is not oil and gas - our people are our most important wealth and if you let us host the World Cup we will do that in a manner you have never had in your history.
"Let us make history together."