Oh how they roared, the three lions. David Beckham did what he does least well, opening his mouth. Prince William warmed his hands and examined them with downcast eyes just like his mum used to. And David Cameron, well, he doesn't really register on the "stardust" scale with Telegraph readers, let alone the Fifa executives. And these guys knew more about offshore bank accounts than Michael Ashcroft. Perhaps they should have sent "Sam Cam" instead, with Posh Spice and Queen Kate in tow (in no particular order). It's well known, after all, that Sepp Blatter, the Fifa President and possibly the most powerful man in the world after Simon Cowell, thought that the way to market women's football was to make them wear skimpier shorts. By about 4:15 Zurich time, Becks, Wills and Call Me Dave were probably drinking shots like they were going out of fashion.
They were all there, of course, for the 2018 World Cup Bid (BBC2, Thursday), great and the good – and Bill Clinton – but Vladimir Putin stayed at home to look after the health service, which seemed to be greeted with a degree of derision. But the fact is that Russia won and they have no debts and Putin had effectively tickled Blatter's belly like a salmon already (shirt off, of course).
But the biggest contingent of all in Zurich must surely have been the BBC itself. The BBC must have been dreading a home tournament because they wouldn't have a nice destination to send half their staff to in eight years' time. Come to think of it, the licence fee is almost as much of a licence to print money as Fifa's award of World Cup hosting rights.
The one person missing from the piece, apart from Putin-man, was a rather more shabby figure in an anorak called Andrew Jennings, whose hobby appears to be shouting abuse at Fifa executives in hotel foyers and airports.
According to Panorama (BBC1, Monday) he's been hot on their tail for about 10 years – "If I could've spit on you, I would've spat on you", as Trinidadian Jack Warner memorably hissed at him – and there may be a few oligarchs with rather dry mouths at the thought of this noble, shambling figure yelling at them from a dinghy 20 yards from their yacht. What have they let themselves in for? Perhaps after all the bad publicity, Russia – who barely featured the bid announcement in their news bulletin – didn't really want the damned thing after all.
* The Sky Box went down just before the start of the epic fourth-day fightback in the Brisbane Test. Never mind, the Ashes is only the most important sporting occasion in the calendar, and they said they would repair it in four days. Sadly they missed their time slot by six to eight hours and couldn't get up the hill because of all the snow that fell during the meantime.
So the next allotted slot was tomorrow, just in time for the last day of the Second Test – eight days later. Apparently there's a lot of "installations", so it's a case of putting new customers before the existing ones. It wouldn't have mattered so much if it wasn't the bloody Ashes.
Sky really is the limit. Apparently the series is going very well, as the proliferation of online feeds would testify. There's a dozen other ways to watch the series. And they are free.Reuse content