England lose out to Russia in World Cup bid
England's dream of hosting the 2018 World Cup ended in disappointment today.
Russia won the right to stage the tournament after a ballot by the Fifa executive committee in Zurich.
President Sepp Blatter made the announcement in the Swiss city shortly after 3.30pm.
Handed the World Cup by Blatter, Russian deputy prime minister Igor Shuvalov celebrated, saying: "You have entrusted us with the Fifa World Cup for 2018 and I can promise, we all can promise, you will never regret it.
"Let us make history together."
Joint bids by Spain and Portugal and Holland and Belgium also lost out.
Sources close to the English bid said England did not even make it to the final round of voting.
Fifa executives also voted today to choose the 2022 World Cup hosts with Qatar winning the contest.
Qatar beat bids from Australia, the United States and 2004 World Cup co-hosts Japan and South Korea.
A major plank of Russia's bid was that the World Cup would provide a reason to regenerate.
The country will have to build new stadia and hotels and vastly overhaul its transport network.
"Why hold the event somewhere that could stage it straight away?" asked the Russians. And Fifa agreed.
Qatar won the 2022 World Cup and Fifa chiefs clearly want newer countries with no real football heritage to play a greater part in the global game.
The England 2018 bid team had hoped the lobbying of Fifa members by Prince William, David Cameron and David Beckham in recent days had given them an advantage.
But the campaign was ultimately unsuccessful.
Despite a bid described as "excellent and remarkable" by Mr Blatter, judges rejected sending the tournament back to England for the first time since 1966.
Though England boasted a series of excellent stadia, good transport links and policing, it is thought a number of behind-the-scenes factors possibly went against England.
BBC's recent Panorama investigation accused three Fifa executive committee members of accepting "corrupt" payments and alleged that Fifa vice-president Jack Warner attempted to supply ticket touts.
It was transmitted just three days ago.
Uefa president Michel Platini insisted the documentary would not alter members' votes or wreck England's chances.
But he did claim that the British media's arduous relationship with football's international governing body could jeopardise England's chances of success.
African confederation president Issa Hayatou - whose vote England had high hopes of capturing - Brazil's Ricardo Terra Teixeira and Nicolas Leoz of Paraguay were all accused by Panorama of taking payments.
Mr Warner was the subject of accusations that he "ordered (2010 World Cup) tickets costing US $84,240 from the Fifa ticket office but the deal subsequently fell through".
The four men were all part of the electorate who voted and will vote again to choose the 2022 winner.
Mr Warner's importance to the England bid was such that Mr Cameron invited him to lunch.
Niall Quinn, who led Sunderland's bid to host games, said the main components of England's bid "have been overlooked".
Speaking at the Stadium of Light, he said: "We wish Russia well. I'm suprised they got it, I have to say.
"But having said that, we have to be good losers."
He said the whole community backed the project and no more effort could have been made.
"I don't want to feel bitter at all but it's just a shame (when) what you think should be the main components of the bid have been overlooked."
David Beckham apologised to England fans for the bid team's failure to win.
Asked what message he would give to them, he told the BBC: "Apologies that we couldn't bring the World Cup to our country because there's no better and more passionate fans in the world than in England.
"The way they follow us as a team, the way they follow us as a nation.
"It's just disappointing that we can't bring the World Cup to them in 2018."
He added: "We felt that we put a very strong bid together and we felt that we couldn't have done any more than what we did and obviously the presentation went exceptionally well today.
"So obviously it's disappointing, it was disappointing to go out in the first round, but congratulations to Qatar, congratulations to Russia."