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Page last updated at 12:57 GMT, Tuesday, 17 August 2010 13:57 UK

Russia makes 2018 World Cup visa waiver pledge

Russia prime minister Vladimir Putin
Putin has vowed to build nearly all facilities from scratch

Russia has pledged to waive visa restrictions for visitors if it wins the right to host the 2018 World Cup.

A Fifa delegation is touring Russia, one of nine countries bidding to stage the competition in 2018 or 2022, as part of a two-month fact-finding tour.

"We are ready to extend extra, governmental guarantees on visa-free entry for participants and guests," said prime minister Vladimir Putin.

Fifa's team will inspect fellow bidders England between 23-26 August.

The inspection committee, headed by Chilean Harold Mayne-Nicholls, has already travelled to Japan, South Korea and Australia as well as the joint Netherlands/Belgium bid, while future visits to Spain/Portugal, the United States and Qatar are planned.

The 2018 and 2022 hosts will be announced by Fifa on 2 December.

Their three-day itinerary in Russia will include prospective host cities St Petersburg, Moscow, Kazan and Sochi, venue for the 2014 Winter Olympics.

Visitors from nearly all countries require a visa to travel to Russia, which must be applied for in advance.

July 19-22 Japan, 22-25 South Korea, 26-29 Australia
August 9-12 N'lands/Belgium,
16-19 Russia, 23-26 England,
30 Aug-2 Sep Spain/Portugal
September 6-9 United States, 13-17 Qatar

However, Putin's pledge to axe visa requirements was described as "extremely important" by Mayne-Nicholls.

The country previously allowed Manchester United and Chelsea fans arriving for the 2008 Champions League final in Moscow to show their match tickets at passport control rather than a visa.

Russia has also vowed to build nearly all venues, with the exception of Moscow's Luzhniki Stadium, from scratch - a policy which helped to secure the rights to the Winter Games in the Black Sea resort of Sochi.

However, Putin said the facilities would still be built regardless of whether Russia is granted the right to host the World Cup.

"Russia will hold the event at the highest possible level," he said.

"I have no doubt that it will be interesting for both the participants and the guests of the event and they will enjoy it."

World Cup host bidders

2018 and 2022: England, Netherlands/Belgium, Russia, Spain/Portugal, United States.

2022 only: Australia, Japan, Qatar, South Korea.

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see also
Japan stadia hailed on Fifa visit
21 Jul 10 |  Football
Australia drops out of 2018 race
10 Jun 10 |  Football
Triesman verdict pleases bid team
29 May 10 |  Football
Japan abandons 2018 World Cup bid
04 May 10 |  Football
Thompson named 2018 bid chairman
17 May 10 |  Football
Triesman quits FA & 2018 Cup jobs
16 May 10 |  Football
World Cup bids head-to-head
17 Oct 10 |  Football
Beckham hands over 2018 Cup bid
14 May 10 |  Football
Russia enters race to host 2018
20 Jan 09 |  Internationals

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