Now, this is sneaky. The government have spotted that our beloved English national side is so lacklustre that the only chance we’ll have of qualifying in the future is if we get through automatically as hosts.
The English FA has yet to announce that it is going to bid for hosting the 2018 World Cup. That’s not too worrying as they’re not allowed to do it until 2010. However, this hasn’t stopped Tessa Jowell (our culture secretary) joining up with Gordon Brown to say "YES! YES! WE WANT IT! PLEASE! GO ON!" She actually said was: "The FA will, in due course, make their decision," she said. "What Gordon and I are showing today is that a World Cup bid would have unqualified government support. That was such an important part in winning an Olympic bid. None of these big sporting events can be won or staged without wholehearted government support. Very much ahead of time, we have conducted a feasibility study which has come out with very clear conclusions about our readiness." Virtually what I said then…
This feasibility study publishes the results of a survey showing strong public support for the bid – something Jowell insists applies to the whole of the UK. "If any country in the UK were to host a global sporting event on this kind of scale, it becomes something that the whole of the UK becomes enthused by," added Jowell. "I think that we can be British but also support Scotland, Wales, Ireland or England in the sporting events where we compete as nation countries. Fans are able to make these distinctions. It doesn’t diminish their sense of Britishness."
So, with the whole of Britain falling over itself to host a World Cup, one thing is being overlooked. British teams are rubbish and don’t have a serious chance of winning. Sorry, but it’s true. I know that host nations usually fare pretty well in the World Cup… look at Japan and South Korea who out-punched their weight when they housed the best competition in the world. However, look at our stint in Euro ’96. Everyone always thinks we did really well as we got to the semis. If you really think about it, we weren’t that great. We played well in one game (the 4-1 mauling of the Dutch) and distinctly average in all other games. We drew with a poor Swiss side in our opening game, to then scrape past them in the knock-out stages. We beat a poor Scottish outfit with the help of a wobbly ball on Gary McAllister’s penalty spot, we scraped past Spain (who always underachieve in tournaments) and then, when we met a decent side, Germany, they knocked us out.
Not counting the 5-1 hammering of Germany aaaages ago, when was the last time you came away from an England match genuinely enthused. With everyone having an opinion on the England side at the moment (can you play Lampard and Gerrard together? Is Steve McClaren hopeless? Who gave them that shoddy kit?) it would be silly to rake old ground. I just feel that FIFA must look at our glittering talent, then look at our great grounds with their brilliant security, and then think, why are they so very very dull? Maybe we need a World Cup to get everyone excited about international football again? [Mof Gimmers]