The Last Word: If England win, it wouldn't keep Sepp in fashion

Fifa's supreme leader knows another left-field bid like South Africa would keep him in power longer
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Easy isn't good in Sepp-speak. Easy is bad. In fact, when Sepp utters the word "easy" it is time to pack up the flowcharts, fold away the politicians and flop into a big comfy armchair. The Football Association's 2018 World Cup bid is basically like a Sunday morning.

Britain has become well adept at reading between the lines of the bid-masters, those demi-gods who come over here to conduct their extensive research of the Dorchester menu to check whether we have what it takes to stage a global event. In our age of innocence, just a decade or two ago, row upon row of terraced streets would have performed synchronised cartwheeling to hear the Fifa president declaring "it would be easy to give it to England – everything's there".

Now, as bid-hardened animals, we are only inspired into a mass rolling of eyeballs. We have learnt that visionaries like Blatter don't exist to do the "easy". That would be like Harry Houdini doing the three-card trick.

So in the past few days since Mr Blather damned England with praise so faint to be insultingly transparent, many have feared it's doomed to go to Russia. Meanwhile for those still holding out hope that the pragmatic will triumph over the dream, there was one more piece of news which demands they confront the inevitable.

On Friday, Blatter's presidency was effectively extended by another four years. And that means a few more immortal acts from a man who actually feels able to announce, without feeling the slightest bit silly, "my mission is not yet complete".

But then why not milk his newly enriched reputation for all it's worth as the world applauds him for daring to take the showpiece to South Africa? The old boy knows he is untouchable after that and, more importantly, knows that all his potential usurpers know he is untouchable. Mohamed Bin Hammam, the one figure with a powerbase big enough to challenge him, merely confirmed this two days ago. "Let me be very clear, I will not run for the next Fifa election," said the Asian Football Confederation chief. "I will be backing Sepp Blatter to remain in office for a new mandate."

So Sepp stays until at least 2015 and if Brazil 2014 is a roaring success – which like South Africa it will be perceived to be, even if it isn't – Sepp will probably run unopposed then as well. It may seem absurd to suggest it but at a very sprightly 74 he might even be considering emulating the reign of his predecessor. Joao Havelange was the Fifa president for 24 years; Blatter is now all but booked in until a 17th year. So much for Fifa hailing Havelange as a "one-off" on his retirement in 1998.

Of course, Fifa meant that description in a nice way; it was just the critics who regarded it more as a promise. To those miserable doubters it seemed rather grotesque that a democratic body featuring more than 200 voting membership associations could have the same ruler traversing three decades. They wondered how a simple servant could survive that long, how his popularity could not wane along the normal lines of governance. The comparisons with despots were as predictable as they were irresistible. Fifa was a one-head state.

It still is; only the smirk has changed. Even the International Olympic Committee – that great organ of holiness – decided in the wake of Juan Antonio Samaranch's torrid 21-year reign to set a 12-year limit on their presidents. Not Fifa. Autocracy is not such a dirty word in Zurich; nor will it continue to be.

Sepp has the taste for it after South Africa and this is what, against all the odds, makes Russia the favourites to get the nod in three months' time. Nobody is going to remember him for staging the World Cup in an existing, proven infrastructure; and, just as pertinently, not everyone is going to feel obliged to vote for him either. Thus, every four years – oh so conveniently placed a 12-month before an election – Sepp must be seen to be the miracle-worker. And that's hard to do in a country where nigh on a million people pay to watch football every week, the majority of them at state-of the-art stadiums. Anything but perfect would be seen as a Fifa cock-up.

That is a chance Blatter and his cronies would be reluctant to take. They prefer the gambles such as South Africa, which only show an upside. Fifa were aware the prospect of crime would be dramatically overstated, just as they were blissful in the knowledge their outrageous "guarantees" would yield a huge profit. In truth, South Africa took little except the feelgood factor, that wonderfully unquantifiable commodity which can be thrown back in the cynics' faces. And now a country – which has famously come of age after hosting 64 games – has vast new grounds it can neither afford nor fill. Good job Fifa only deal in perception and not reality.

Therein lies the "unbeatable" deficit the English bid is operating under. If and when this latest attempt fails, the FA will not be trying again for another eight years. How cleansing will that period be, when we don't have to watch these mere sporting officials being treated like heads of state, lording it over this land and its rich eateries like some time-travelling trade junket from the court of Henry VIII?

In fact, if the bid goes awry, can't we just say "enough" and allow Britain's so-called decade of sport to be followed by a decade of deliverance? Whereby the money is pumped into the areas of sport which will truly make a difference to the health and well-being of the United Kingdom. That's not into the great survival pot of Blatter, but into improved facilities and coaching, dedicated green patches for the young to run around. All the things, in fact, which are currently suffering as a result of the London Olympics? But then, as Sepp would no doubt agree, that's hardly a vote-winner.

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