I was not surprised that the selection of the next two World Cup venues would be the lead story when I saw the BBC World Service News this afternoon on Public Television. Since I did not particularly care who would win this competition, particularly after allegations of bribery had surfaced, I gave little thought to Russia being selected for the 2018 competition. I also recognized that Vladimir Putin could gain some political capital out of traveling to Zurich to thank FIFA personally. Nevertheless, I was surprised that he delivered his thanks in English. To the best of my knowledge, this was the first time I ever heard him utter a word of English, even in the midst of all that play-acting of “male bonding” with President George W. Bush. Clearly, Putin was reading from a prepared statement; and he did not try to hide it. However, it was a smooth and polished delivery, in sharp contrast to remarks prepared for delivery by Bush or, for that matter, Barack Obama. This is not the first time that Putin has shown his skill in working the media; but, if he can put on an act this good for FIFA, what further performances can we in the English-speaking world expect?