So it is all over now. And fans at home as well as everyone in the 2018 bid team are understandably gutted.
I don’t regret for one moment all the effort we put in. I have not felt as proud of England as I did during our presentation – at least for a very long time. For all the ups and downs of the bid it felt like a totally united and committed team – with everyone from the PM, Prince William, David Beckham and Andy Anson at the very top of their game. We would have hosted a fabulous world cup and virtually all the independent people I spoke to (including those bidding for the 2022 Cup) said ours was the best bid commercially, technically and in terms of legacy.
But clearly that was not enough. Throughout my whole time in Zurich any discussion about the respective merits of bids was eclipsed by speculation about who was doing deals with who – exacerbated but by no means entirely because of the decision to decide two world cups at the same time. Of course we all want football to penetrate new frontiers and we wish Russia and Qatar well. But surely you want established footballing nations to continue to invest in promoting the game worldwide too? If the strategy is to take the game to new parts of the world, what is the point of a technical evaluation at all? After all the work that was put into out bid it feels like a slap in the face for the country that has done more for football than any other.
We will pick ourselves up (we always do) but everyone involved can be forgiven for a real sense of injured pride.