Russia makes 'girl power' appeal to FIFA

ZURICH - Russian pole vaulter Yelena Isinbayeva was a rare female presence in the male-dominated corridors of football's world governing body on Thursday, praising the FIFA executive for promoting the women's game.

Isinbayeva, the first woman to vault five metres who has 27 world records to her name, was one of only a handful of women to speak in Zurich at final presentations to back bids to host the 2018 and 2022 World Cups ahead of the vote later on Thursday.

"FIFA has done a lot for female athletes," said the twice Olympic champion. "Football for women is the fastest growing sport in the world and it happens thanks to you."

The film Russia showed to the 22 male members of the FIFA executive was also unusual in featuring a girl with the ball, rather than the boys mostly featured in other bids.

Russia is up against England to host 2018 as well as joint bids from Spain and Portugal and the Netherlands and Belgium, none of which featured women in their on-stage presentations in Zurich on Thursday.

Quentin Bryce, Australia's governor general, led her country's bid to host the 2022 tournament on Wednesday, along with supermodel Elle Macpherson. Sheikha Mozah bint Nasser, the wife of the Qatari ruler, spoke for her country.

Former U.S. President Bill Clinton reminisced about taking his daughter Chelsea to play football as a child and mentioned the growth of the women's game in his country. The U.S. bid team was also supported by Women's World Cup winner Mia Hamm.

Australia, Qatar and the United States are bidding against South Korea and Japan to host the 2022 competition.