"We were equal top of FIFA's own technical assessment of the four bids. We were top of an independent assessment of the best commercial bids and our presentation on Thursday was widely acclaimed as the best of the 2018 and 2022 bids," said acting FA chairman Roger Burden. "I am struggling to understand how we only achieved two votes".
He shouldn't be. Viacheslav Koloskov, FIFA vice-president from 1980 to 1996 and a member of Russia's victorious organising committee, had already revealed how unimportant technical assessments are: "I know from my own experience that ExCo members work with little information. The inspection reports are enormous, so no one reads them." Ahongalu Fusimalohi, suspended from the vote after a Sunday Times sting, had given the FA an even bigger clue: "England don't strike deals...It is corrupt – but only if you get caught."
"All the fish is sold," Vladimir Putin had said, while the British press obessed about his failure to turn up in Zurich. England sent David Beckham, a prime minister and a future king, who spent 48 hours lobbying the 22 committee members - and got one extra vote other than their own (from Issa Hayatou, African federation chief, repaying England's support for his unsuccessful 2002 attempt to unseat Blatter).
Somehow, the English bid contrived to be arrogant, naive and incredibly stupid at the same time. A bit, you might say, like the men they chose to spearhead it.