Russia has been chosen to host the soccer World Cup in 2018, while Qatar has been awarded the 2022 tournament. Both countries will be hosting world football's biggest competition for the first time.
Footballers will fight for the trophy in Russia and Qatar
Russia will host the World Cup in 2018, with Qatar to host the 2022 competition run by world soccer body FIFA.
"The 2018 FIFA World Cup, ladies and gentlemen, will be organized in Russia," FIFA President Sepp Blatter said while making the announcement, delivered to him by the public notary of the city of Zurich.
Shortly afterwards, Blatter went on to announce the second choice, in the first double decision on World Cup venues in FIFA's history.
"The winner to organize the 2022 World Cup is Qatar," he said.
"I have to make big, big compliments to all the bidders … for the big job they have done and for the messages they have delivered," Blatter said in his address.
"In football, we learn to win, and that's easy. But in football, we also learn to lose, and that's not so easy."
A thinned-out panel of 22 FIFA executive committee members - with two absentees due to recent corruption allegations - reached the decision at the organization's headquarters in Zurich on Thursday afternoon.
Confident Russia wins European rights
Ambitious Russian fans might be dreaming of a 2018 victory
The Russian success came at the expense of joint bids from Spain and Portugal and from Belgium and the Netherlands, as well as a push for the tournament from England.
Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, who spearheaded the country's early push for the competition, did not attend the ceremony in Zurich. He said he was confident his country would win anyway, and that he didn't want to put additional pressure on FIFA members, accusing rivals England of launching a "smear campaign" against soccer's governing body.
Putin was apparently alluding to an investigative journalism feature on corruption within the organization, aired on the BBC days before the decision.
After the announcement, Putin said he would fly to Zurich on Thursday night to thank FIFA and its executive committee.
Russia, like fellow victors Qatar, has never hosted a World Cup before. The country is something of a new frontier for world football. Its national team's success in reaching the semi-final of the 2008 European Championships - stewarded by international coaching guru Guus Hiddink - helped catapult the country onto the soccer radar. However, the side failed to qualify for the 2010 World Cup in South Africa.
Star-studded Qatar bid triumphs
The small, oil-rich Gulf state of Qatar has neither a rich footballing heritage nor a strong national team, but it will be the first country from the region to host a World Cup.
Zinedine Zidane, the hero of the 1998 World Cup, was among Qatar's ambassadors
The country sought out a stellar list of ambassadors to promote its cause. French World Cup winning hero Zinedine Zidane was perhaps the most famous, and he was joined by the fabled Dutch defender Ronald de Boer, Cameroon's goal-machine Roger Milla, Barcelona coach and former Spain international Josep Guardiola, and Argentine goal-poacher Gabriel Batistuta, among others. Even those outside the soccer scene, like long-time Formula One team owner Sir Frank Williams, offered their support to Qatar's bid.
Qatar secured the 2022 tournament over bids from the United States, Australia, Japan and South Korea.
In its final pitch, the country sought to reassure officials that players would compete in perfect conditions, promising air-conditioned stadiums to ward off the scorching summer heat in the region.
"All our stadiums, training sites and fan zones will be at 27 degrees Celsius (80 degrees Fahrenheit), all solar-powered and 100 percent carbon neutral," the Qatar bid CEO Hassan Al-Thawadi said. "The application for this technology goes far beyond stadiums."
It's perhaps fitting that the 2018 and 2022 World Cups are breaking new ground, considering that the next competition in 2014 will be played out in one of football's spiritual homes - Brazil.
Author: Mark Hallam (Reuters, AFP)
Editor: Nancy Isenson