England were never going to win this pitch. They never had a prayer and anyone who followed things from the start knew this. As did the media who, nevertheless, enjoyed raising the temperature with a ‘we was robbed by the bunging-corrupt-lieing-cheating-FIFA story. At least it kept the snow off the front pages. Here are two real reasons why we lost. Lack of leadership. Lack of insight.
Think what you will about the preening Sebb Blatter but recognise that he and his cronies, like the IOC, are all powerful. They are not impressed by titles and are used to world leaders grovelling. Obama early in his presidency lost prestige pitching for Chicago to host 2012. The same goes for the ill-advised Cameron. The patent lack of clear leadership from England’s bid, at its conspicuous worst with Lord Triesman and his pillow talk, was a fatal own goal.
Compare this with the Russian bid. Whoever was nominally leading their delegation, the real leadership was one man, Putin. From the outset FIFA knew with total certainty who they were dealing with and who would and could deliver. (No client in any pitch appoints where leadership is lacking!) Seb Coe was clearly the leader of London’s Olympic bid.
The Dave, David and William charm team complains that it is unfair, “our technical bid was the best”. They forget that Paris, who were the technically superior bid for 2012, lost because they lacked insight into what really mattered to the IOC, a need to be seen as good guys inspiring the world’s youth. London played to this.(See last post).
The FA’s lack of strategic insight was neatly expressed by Jeff Powell in the Daily Mail: “Not until it was so late that the doomsday clock was chiming did it dawn on any of them that what FIFA really wanted was to bestow its greatest gift not upon the rich, smug and famous but on a region in need of those five star facilities….and in so doing open up a vast new frontier for the global game.”
The steppes of Russia were always going to have more allure than football crowded England.