- Associated Press - Wednesday, December 1, 2010

MOSCOW (AP) - Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin says he will not fly to Zurich for the vote that will determine the host of the 2018 World Cup.

Putin says he wants to avoid exerting any pressure on FIFA officials ahead of Thursday’s vote.

Putin, who had been slated to speak on behalf of the bid, could be distancing himself from the Russian campaign because he does not want to be linked to a loser.

Russia is competing with England, Spain-Portugal and Belgium-Netherlands to host the 2018 World Cup.

Putin made a high-profile trip to Guatemala in 2007 to help secure the 2014 Winter Olympics for Sochi, having announced that trip more than a week in advance.

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