The surprise must be that anyone is surprised. So Fifa went with Russia and Qatar, the two bids that have the best chance of, a) earning its president a Nobel Peace Prize, and b) earning their coffers an ignoble oil prize, and c) both. As shocks go, that's right up there with members of the Fifa executive committee implicated in bribery scandals. Dare we even suspect it, but could these two controversies possibly be linked?
That was the general reaction in England yesterday, or at least among those who genuinely cared. "A nation awaits," said one breathless commentator. Really? For a football tournament that may or may not have taken place in the nation in eight years' time? Blimey, England genuinely does need some good news on that icy horizon now, doesn't it?
But rage and scream we must because a gross injustice has been served. Two poxy votes (or one if we assume England's own man managed to mark his "X" properly). Even Britain's Eurovision entries do better – and the England bid was a damn sight more in tune than Josh Dubovie. In fact, there is every reason to believe this was the worthiest of the bids, certainly on a technical level. So how did it crash so calamitously, like a Monster Raving Loony in Richmond? Well, after the myopic numbskulls have taken the pathetically short-sighted step of naming the media as culpable, it is all too easy for the finger to locate the real target of blame.
This was Fifa's chance to cleanse; as one commentator put it "this is their Salt Lake moment". But instead of giving their reputation an honesty overhaul they have covered it in petrol and then stuck on the dollars. "A great day," said Sepp Blatter. For Russia, a few sheikhs and some vengeful Fifa men, perhaps. But for football it was utterly disastrous. If England's rejection was insulting in its totality then, more pertinently, Qatar's acceptance was injurious in its transparency. An entire desert was kicked in the game's face.
Blatter tried to let down England gently by referring to the country as "the motherland of football". In truth, when discussing the English the president and his merry band of ExCos are in the habit of appending another noun to "mother". If there was any doubt about Fifa's hatred of the nation, then there certainly isn't after this.
Inevitably, the response over here was fury mixed with gallows humour mixed with completely understandable humour in seeing a prince, a prime minister and a prima donna humbled so publicly. The reality is that England and, yes, Britain have every right to be annoyed but not necessarily with Fifa. That's like taking your fury out on the dangerous dog and not the dolt who encouraged it. And believe it, the English bidders did encourage Fifa.
Tens of millions is the bill of their bidding failure. Why does it have to cost so much and why do England consent to pay it? The answer is because they felt they had to. The bid prostituted itself from the very off, sucking up to the power brokers, shaking the right hands, taking them to the right restaurants, ordering the right wines, being oh so careful not to step on the right shoes. That's why you saw the leaders of the bidding team slating the press for revealing Fifa's flaws.
And for what? For Fifa to make England look laughing stocks again? The next time the FA decide to put the nation forward they must rely on the technical report alone. That's where the bid should be won or lost – and if not solely on those criteria then surely only on the legacy. Qatar's ridiculous ascent proves that as a collective Fifa is obsessed with its own power and greed.
I can't see too much perverse in taking the World Cup to eastern Europe for the first time, to Russia, one of the globe's biggest nations. It's just the way it's been done. But that's Fifa for you.
With that shameless excuse for a governing body the feeling will linger that all of football is being done. Anyone for 2030? No, me neither.Reuse content