Russia and the tiny Gulf state of Qatar were awarded the 2018 and 2022 World Cups on Thursday after an acrimonious bidding war marred by allegations of corruption and illegal deal-making. (AFP Photo)
The bombshell conclusion to two years of frenzied lobbying saw world football supremo Sepp Blatter reveal the winners following a secret ballot of 22 FIFA executive committee members in Zurich.
The announcement means the World Cup will be staged in two countries which have never hosted the event before following the 2014 tournament in Brazil. (AFP Photo)
Russia prevailed in the 2018 race, upsetting England and joint bids from Spain and Portugal and Belgium and the Netherlands.
The outcome represented a stunning comeback for Russia, whose campaign had believed to be in trouble after Prime Minister Vladimir Putin declined to join the lobbying effort in Zurich. (AFP Photo)
But the shock of the day came in the 2022 race, where Qatar beat off stiff competition from the United States, Australia and Asian rivals South Korea and Japan in a remarkable result.
Qatar 2022 bid president Mohammed bin Hamad Al-Thani promised: "We won't let you down. You will be proud of us, proud of the Middle East." (AFP Photo)
Qatar's win came despite serious reservations being raised about the logistical problems of staging the football tournament in the Gulf during the searing heat of the summer months. (AFP Photo)
England 2018 officials declined to respond to the criticism, but were left dejected after launching a heavyweight increasingly optimistic after lobbying offensive led by Prime Minister David Cameron, heir to the throne Prince William and football icon David Beckham. (AFP Photo)
Some of the best names of the world had represented their countries' bids for the hosting rights of the FIFA World Cup 2018 and 2022. Here is a look. (AFP Photo)
Former US president Bill Clinton was also there as a representative for his country. Australia, the United States, Qatar, Japan and South Korea bid for the 2022 World Cup. (AFP Photo)
France's former footballer Zinedine Zidane gestures at his arrival to the FIFA headquarters. (AFP Photo)
Academy Award-winning actor Morgan Freeman was also present to attend the United States' 2022 World Cup bid final presentation. (AFP Photo)
Former Portuguese international football player Luis Figo took part in the 2018 FIFA World Cup Spain/Portugal bid final presentation. (AFP Photo)
Qatar's Emir, Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani and his wife, Sheikha Mozah bint Nasser Al Missned graced the occasion with their presence at the Qatar's 2022 World Cup bid final presentation. (AFP Photo)
South Korean Prime Minister Kim Hwang-Sik also came to represent his country's bid for the football mega event in 2022. (AFP Photo)
South Korean swimmer and triple medallist at recent Asian Games, Park Tae-Hwa and South Korean prima ballerina Kang Sue-Jin joined their PM in Zurich. (AFP Photo)
English football icon David Beckham during a press conference ahead of England's 2018 World Cup bid final presentation. (AFP Photo)