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World Cup 2018: England Expects

Date Added: January 02, 2008 03:23:59 PM
Category: Recreation & Sports

Hooray. The English Football Association is to bid for the 2018 World Cup and it's almost certain England will not only win that, but the whole tournament, too. After all, that's what happened in 1966. Omens don't come any bigger. Cue spontaneous street parties in the shires, the uncorking of vintage port in social clubs, and revelry so infectious it marries the warring classes and unites a nation. Call David Beckham. Call Des Lynam. Call Baddiel and Skinner. It's coming home.

What sublime genius from Gordon Brown to back the bid. That's what we want from our Prime Minister — a thinker, a doer, a man of the people. And people love their soccer. What was Maggie thinking? She might have lined the wallets of thousands, told those pesky unions where to go, and done it all to a soundtrack of Duran Duran, but she had no handle on the national game whatsoever. How can you expect to be remembered when you failed to win the rights to a single major soccer tournament during your tenure? Even George Bush Senior managed it.

As for the FA, all is forgiven. Granted, Steve McClaren as coach was a mistake, but there's nothing like World Cup fever to soften the blow. You can take your bungs, scandals, and inadequacies and drown them in hooligan juice with all those ID cards, never to be seen or heard of again. "I think not qualifying for Euro 2008 is a good thing," will say the proverbial man in the pub, "we need to focus on 2018 now. That's gonna be our best chance of winning anything. I can't wait."

Sadly, unless the price of cryogenic freezing falls dramatically, we still have over 4,000 dreary, rain-soaked English days to negotiate before the celebration begins. In that time, we can look forward to reading approximately 2,178,000 newspaper articles on the subject of England's bid, which, if successful, will naturally spiral rampantly over budget, allowing politicians to focus on a football tournament — and forget about the darn NHS once and for all. From an advertising and marketing perspective, World Cup England spells what CNBC's Jim Kramer calls "Mad Money." Take Geoff Hurst, for example — everybody's favorite one-match hero (scorer of a hat trick in the '66 final) would likely earn £7 trillion from appearances on breakfast television alone.

Cynicism aside, the bid is undeniably a good thing for England and English soccer. It's just a shame to announce it so early and thus sentence an entire nation to relentless preview mode. Sport is all about anticipation, but 11 years is a long old hall to wait for England to splutter to the latter stages, lose on penalties, and send a nation to mourning. Still, at least we can stop talking about the 2012 Olympics for a while.

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