Putin opts out of helping Russia’s World Cup bid
ZURICH (AP) - With Prime Minister Vladimir Putin pulling out of helping Russia’s 2018 World Cup bid, Wednesday’s frantic last day of politicking was left to other leaders, princes, actors and models to work their charm on the 22 voters.
The Spain-Portugal bid again kept its lobbying behind closed doors, but heard Wednesday it will not be able to count on the injured Cristiano Ronaldo in its buildup to the 2018 World Cup vote. Real Madrid said the Portuguese winger needs to recover for Saturday’s match against Valencia.
U.S. bidders brought a video message from President Barack Obama, a live speech from Landon Donovan and a botched presentation from Oscar-winning actor Morgan Freeman, who missed a page from his script.
While the American bid stressed diversity, South Korea went for unity.
It highlighted the prospect of peace and a united Korea, insisting that soccer had the power to bring people closer and would be an agent of political change to end the standoff between North and South on the divided peninsula.
“We saw that football has the power to bring people together, to end enmity and to spur reconciliation,” Kim said. “It gave us a vision that the World Cup in 2022 can be a celebration of peace for Korea and the world.”
“It would be a bold gamble and an exciting prospect, but with no risk,” bid chief executive Hassan al-Thawadi said through a translator. “Heat is not and will not be an issue.”
Australia lined up all the elegance of star model Elle Macpherson to offset its funky presentation.