By RAF CASERT, AP Sports Writer
ZURICH (AP) - Qatar was selected as host of the 2022 World Cup, beating out a bid by the United States to bring soccer's showcase back to America for the first time since 1994.
FIFA's executive committee choose Qatar over the U.S., Australia, Japan and South Korea in a secret vote Thursday.
Minutes earlier, Russia was announced as host of the 2018 tournament. It was chosen over England and joint bids by Spain-Portugal and Netherlands-Belgium.
Qatar, the smallest nation to host the World Cup, used its 30-minute presentation to underline how the tournament could unify a region ravaged by conflict. Presenters also promised to overcome summer heat of up to 130 degrees by air conditioning outdoor stadiums it will build, then dismantle and give to needy nations.
"Thank you for believing in change, thank you for believing in expanding the game, thank you for giving Qatar a chance," said Sheikh Mohammad bin Hamad Al-Thani, Qatar's bid chairman. "We will not let you down. Youu will be proud of us, you will be proud of the Middle East and I promise you this."
It was the second international loss in the year for the U.S., which was led by former President Bill Clinton during its final presentation Wednesday. Last year, the International Olympic Committee chose Rio de Janeiro over Chicago and others for the 2016 Olympics despite a personal lobbying effort by President Barack Obama.
Brazil was selected as the 2014 host in October 2007, and FIFA began accepting bids for the following two tournaments in early 2009.
The World Cup was played in the United States for the first time in 1994, setting a record with 3.58 million tickets sold, and the U.S. Soccer Federation had hoped a second World Cup in America would boost soccer's slow but steady growth.
Now the U.S. will have to wait until at least 2026, when it may have to compete with bids from Europe, soccer's financial base.
By selecting Qatar, FIFA precluded a 2026 bid from China, since the same continent cannot host consecutive World Cups.
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