By Richard Clarke

Andrey Arshavin believes the English reaction to Russia getting the 2018 World Cup has been "understandable" - but he is backing his country to pull off a "perfect" tournament in eight years time.

The Arsenal midfielder made a presentation in Zurich last week as FIFA presided over the location of the world's greatest sporting event.

In the poll that followed, England received only two votes and were eliminated. Russia completed their triumph in the second ballot.

The fallout has filled the English sports pages ever since. Ahead of Wednesday's Champions League tie with Partizan, Arshavin admitted even his own team-mates had been giving him gentle stick over Russia's victory.

"I was very surprised we won," said the 29-year-old. "It's difficult to talk about the England bid, as I supported my country and am very happy for Russia. It will help our country to improve, not just in terms of football.

"The English reaction was predictable, you love football here, I see it every day. Football in England is a religion.

"When I came back, Jack Wilshere said to me: 'what have you done? I dreamed to lift the trophy in front of my own supporters!' I can understand him but I said you still have time to wait.

"I did what I had to do. The rest I have left behind. If your newspapers are talking about FIFA or somebody else I just read it, that's all.

"But the World Cup [Russia] will be perfect, believe me, if [Prime Minister] Vladimir Putin wants something, he does it really well."

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7 Dec 2010