President revels in Russian success

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Russian president Dmitry Medvedev has welcomed the news that the 2018 World Cup is coming to his country but immediately turned his focus to delivering the event.

The Russian bid saw off competition from England, Spain/Portugal and Holland/Belgium at Thursday's announcement in Zurich despite the absence of Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, who is now flying to Switzerland. Medvedev was quick to commend the bid team's success though.

Writing on his Twitter account, Medvedev said: "Victory. We got it! Russia will host the 2018 FIFA World Cup! Now we need to prepare for it and I hope our team will do well too."

Deputy Prime Minister Igor Shuvalov, clutching a replica of the World Cup trophy on stage moments after Sepp Blatter made the announcement, told the crowd: "To have entrusted us with the World Cup for 2018, you will never regret it. Let us make history together."

Fans were also rejoicing at the news, with Alexander Shprygin, the head of Russia's official football supporters group, telling The Moscow News that the World Cup put even the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics in the shade.

"This is huge for us," said Shprygin. "We've been waiting for this announcement for two years, when fans first spoke with sports minister Vitaly Mutko about it.

"It's a symbol, a landmark and a bigger stimulus than the 2014 Olympics. It's a national leap, a national project."

Everton's Russia winger Diniyar Bilyaletdinov felt the decision would allow football to grow in his homeland.

"I think it is great news for Russia, it is a great decision because Russia needs this tournament more than other countries," said the 37-cap international.

"For example, England could host the tournament tomorrow, they are a real football nation with great stadiums and everything is ready. I can't say the same for Russia because the football infrastructure is not so good. We need to take the next step and this decision will help us to do that.

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Diniyar Bilyaletdinov

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