£15 million spent, years of organisation and PR investment, the rolling out of A-Z list celebrities, even the future King’s annual leave from the RAF Search & Rescue unit in Wales, all were pretty pointless as England failed at the first hurdle, something us Scots know a lot about. But given the money spent, the high expectations and for some the certainty that they would get the 2018 World Cup it is a huge embarrassment for England, and despite the disappointment of not being able to cross the border to watch a few World Cup games, we are now saved the usual English Superiority Mentality that usually follows such competitions.
And now the knives are out, the fingers are being pointed and that stiff upper lip has turned to a petted one.
Rumours of bribery and corruption once again have reared its ugly head, journalists asking leading questions to members of the England 2018 bid. Not to mention those journalists who are asking questions of the FIFA Executive Committee members who had promised or implied that they would vote for England.
The BBC have come under attack from all quarters over their Panorama programme, which alleged FIFA Vice President Issa Hayatou and two other senior officials voting on World Cup bids took bribes in the 1990s. And then there was the Sunday Times investigation which outed several more officials who were allegedly taking bribes also. These issues were thought to have dealt a severe blow to England’s chances of winning.
England’s prodigal son David Beckham said of failing to win, “It’s obviously disappointing not coming away with the World Cup but I think the whole team can be proud of everything we’ve put through, the presentation was exceptional, everyone has told us that it was one of the best – if not the best – presentation, but it just wasn’t meant to be. No [sense of injustice], I think at the end of the day when you lose something you do feel that and you feel disappointed. I think there’s more disappointment than anything right now. We’ll process it over the next few days but the biggest thing is the disappointment.
“There’s a lot of hard work gone behind the bid and a lot of belief we were going to get the World Cup. Huge disappointment but, like I said, we couldn’t have done any more. We got very good feelings from almost all the members that we met, and we met every one, so obviously it’s disappointing to go out in the first round, it’s disappointing to not get the World Cup. But we send all our congratulations to Russia and Qatar. I don’t know how damaging the [Panorama] allegations were, obviously I can’t answer that question. I said during the week that our media has full support behind our bid and that doesn’t change.”
Prime Minister David Cameron who spent two days out of running the country to lobby in Zurich, said, “It is desperately sad. There hasn’t been a World Cup in England in my lifetime. I was hoping we could change that, but not this time. I’m bitterly disappointed. According to FIFA we had the best technical bid. No-one could identify any risks of coming to England. I think we had the strongest commercial bid and the country is passionate about football. But it turns out that’s not enough.”
Russian Deputy Prime Minister Igor Shuvalov celebrated winning the bid, “You have entrusted us with the FIFA World Cup for 2018 and I can promise, we all can promise, you will never regret it. Let us make history together.”
But it was not just losing the chance to host the World Cup that was the biggest upset, but the fact that they lwere humiliated. England secured just two votes and were knocked out in the first round, and one of those votes were from the Home Nations’ FIFA Vice President Geoff Thompson. The other seemingly from one of those outed by the BBC programme of being corrupt, Issa Hayatou.
The joint bids from Holland & Belgium secured four votes, Spain & Portugal secured seven votes and Russia nine in the first round.
Thompson, former Chairman of the FA, stated that promises to England had been broken. Maybe those who promised had their fingers crossed behind their back – if so that’s okay then.
“I cannot believe what has happened, and I am naturally very, very disappointed,” he said. “The votes that were promised clearly didn’t materialise. I never imagined we would go out in the first round.”
So whatever the reasons why England’s bid failed, and after all the finger-pointing and headlines slamming the decision are over with, we will just have to look out our travel plans to Russia if Scotland manage to qualify for the tournament. Far more expensive than a trip over the border, but at least we won’t have to listen to the English on how their competition is the greatest ever on top of how they are going to win the World Cup.