David Beckham was gracious in defeat as the blow of losing the vote to host the 2018 World Cup to Russia sank in.
England received only two votes and were eliminated in the first round, with Russia then beating joint bids from Spain and Portugal and Holland and Belgium to triumph, while Qatar were awarded the 2022 tournament.
England brought in the big guns to lobby FIFA delegates in Zurich, with former captain Beckham, Prime Minister David Cameron and Prince William all spending two days promoting the bid, but it was all in vain.
Beckham told BBC Radio Five Live: "I think the bid team have done everything possible, we couldn't have got a better bid.
"We're disappointed but we wish Qatar and Russia the very best, they're two great countries and I'm sure they'll make FIFA very proud.
"It's obviously hard to not come away with the World Cup in 2018 but a lot of congratulations have to go to the team, a lot of hard work has been done.
"With the Prime Minister's hard work and Prince William's hard work, the whole bid team has been exceptional.
"It would be great to bring the World Cup to our country because we've not had it for so many years but it's a process I've enjoyed."
The Prime Minister arrived back in England to bad news after leaving Switzerland before the decision was announced.
He 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.
"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."
Prince William expressed his disappointment, saying on Sky Sports News: "We had a very strong bid, sadly it didn't work out. The guys have been doing a fantastic job, we ran a really professional campaign, and I'm immensely proud of them.
"I'm sorry for the fans back home, we did everything we could."
Bid chief executive Andy Anson told the BBC that England had expected to get more than the two votes they picked up.
"There were other votes we thought we were going to get that would have taken us way into the second round and beyond," he said. "Some of those didn't materialise, I don't know which ones.
"It would be nice to know because, when people look you in the eye and promise you something, you tend to hope they live up to their word, but clearly that's not happened."
Current England captain Rio Ferdinand, giving his reaction on Twitter, drew attention to the BBC's Panorama programme on Monday, which probed alleged corruption within FIFA.
He said: "The timing of the Panorama programme was bad taste, fact."
Gary Lineker, whose tally of 48 international goals is the second-highest in England's history, added: "They've always said they want to push the frontiers - I was surprised they went with two new ones but there were a lot of good strong bids.
"It was always going to be hugely competitive, I just wish it was us."
London Mayor Boris Johnson was disappointed the city did not have more to celebrate after winning the bid to host the 2012 Olympics.
"This is a tremendously disappointing result," said Johnson. "We put together a cracking bid, our technical specification was top notch and our stadiums would have been packed to the rafters. Londoners love football."
England bid board member Lord Sebastien Coe admitted Russia's presentation this morning had been shrewd and may have helped seal their success.
The Russians pointed out the World Cup had yet to be staged in eastern Europe, compared with the 10 times it has been held in the west of the continent.
"It was a very similar concept that Rio went for in Copenhagen (when they won their bid for the 2016 Olympic Games) just a few months ago," Lord Coe told BBC Radio Five. "I think that worked quite strongly for them today."
Former Arsenal vice-chairman David Dein was also integral to England's bid team, and was angered that "the best team didn't win".
"It was always going to be difficult and it wasn't made any easier by certain elements. I'm not going to go into that now," he said.
"When the technical study and the economic reports came out, we were one of best - if not the best - and I think you'll agree that the presentation today was top class, so that makes it all the more disappointing that we didn't do better."
Sunderland chairman Niall Quinn felt England were a victim of politics and admitted the decision was a big blow for a city that would have been one of the hosts.
He told Sky Sports News: "It's a depressed room, lots of people have left the room in tears. A lot of people gave virtually their whole lives to this over the last 18 months. The collective will in this region was incredible.
"We won't get bitter and twisted but, having put so much work in, having been highly commended for our national bid, having scored as highly as we did technically, I think there were other forces at play.
"I'm not sure what they are yet, the politics of it all seems to have strangled the English bid."
Martin Peters, who was part of the England team that won the World Cup on home soil in 1966, said on Sky Sports News: "I'm absolutely gutted.
"I'm sure the boys of 66 would have loved to have it back here and there'll all be really upset."