All hype, no end result – same old story for England

by Charlie Coffey

Friday, December 3rd, 2010

Yesterday I experienced an all too familiar combination of feelings about English football. I thought that maybe this was our time. I thought we could win. The England camp, as usual, talked themselves up until I almost believed the hype. I went to watch the announcement with a spring in my step despite the biting cold, thinking of whether I would be able to get tickets to watch the World Cup in my own country in 2018. Like a typical Englishman, I was getting ahead of myself.

As I settled down in front of the TV to find out who would host the World Cup eight years from now, I sensed another familiar emotion: the cold realisation that England would ultimately fail. Just like when a world-class side knock a series of one-touch passes around our white shirts in the opening minutes, I knew the game was up before it had really begun. As usual we had the constituent parts to win on paper: great stadiums and transport links were our Gerrard and Lampard; admirable on their own but ultimately unsuccessful as a package. We also had David Beckham, but as usual he alone was not enough.

England lost to Russia for a few good reasons. One of the main ones was the opportunity of taking the World Cup to a nation, like South Africa, in which it would help promote the sport, or to ‘open up a new market’ as the BBC commentator said, in a land where football is popular but not as big as it could be. This must also be the main reason why Qatar won the 2022 vote. The World Cup in 2018 promises many new state-of-the-art stadia in Russia, a long-term project that will surely be beneficial for the footballing world provided they are used after the fanfare has departed.

England, on the other hand, is already almost saturated for football. A World Cup would mean the use of existing world-class stadia, and the redevelopment of The Stadium MK in Milton Keynes, a prospect that hardly sets the football world alight. However excellent the likes of David Beckham, David Cameron and especially Eddy Afekafe were in pleading FIFA delegates to vote for England, the most they could offer was that they would love to see a World Cup in their own country, and that football can have positive repercussions in the lives of people like Afekafe. Unfortunately that stands for every candidate and not just England. The fact that David Beckham’s grandfather died last year is sad, but it was never going to persuade voters to cross the England box.

It turns out that football isn’t coming home, so let us turn our attention to Russia. Having visited Moscow for the 2008 Champions League final at the somewhat basic Luzhniki stadium – the ‘jewel in the crown of Russia football’ according to the spiel of Russia’s final campaign, I can tell you first-hand that there is a lot of work to be done. Tourist-friendly is probably the last word I would use to describe Moscow, so I can only imagine what the other locations are like. Apart from the football, and having visited Red Square and the Kremlin, the fact that my fondest memory of Moscow (apart from the match of course), is a chicken kebab I ate on the way back to my hotel one night says it all.

For the England football team itself a World Cup in England in 2018 may well have had negative consequences. Home advantage was probably the main reason we have a star above the three lions at all, but then the home crowd got behind the team back in 1966. There is a reason England play with so much more freedom of expression away from home these days, and having been ashamed to be sitting in Wembley with fellow England fans who boo their own boys at the slightest hint of a failure to meet their somewhat unrealistic expectations, the reason for this is clear.

The shortcomings of the national team will take more than eight years to iron out so perhaps, in a footballing sense and the ability to be able to represent the ‘home of football’ as Sepp Blatter put it yesterday, a World Cup in 2030 (the earliest date we can now hope to host a World Cup), would be more beneficial to our national team’s reputation. By then England will be much improved, will finally be able to add another star to their shirt and…no wait, I’m getting ahead of myself again.

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  • dexylongshot

    I’m still gutted. At least i will only be 30 in 2030 and in my football supporter prime……wishfuls. Russia have got it and that is end of story, i put a few comments down earlier today how I think the outcome has a few “dodgy” overtones to it but it’s all done and dusted now, Russia have, we don’t, simples.

    So After a few lunchtime pints, i now have another comment.

    Sneaky fkin Russians. I’m boycotting 2018, I’ll may venture to Qatar in 2022 and get a nice tan. We might even have an half decent team by then, Wilshire will be in his prime and Joe HaArt will be winning his 187th cap against favourites Fiji, believe!

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