July 8th 2010. An ordinary Thursday except for one small matter. Howard Webb was selected to referee the World Cup final the following Sunday between Spain and the Netherlands. I've been convinced from that moment that Russia will win the 2018 bid for the World Cup.
It would be nice to be proved wrong, that my instinct is incorrect. It's been 44 years since England last hosted the World Cup and a return to England is well overdue. As in all things politics, and an ineptitude by the FA almost on par with the England team performances, have prevented the return of the event.
Politics is a game. It has very little to do with what is right or wrong. Something paradoxically that Margaret Thatcher and Tony Blair understood while numerous leaders on both sides have misunderstood and continue to misunderstand.
And so it is with FIFA and the World Cup. Sometimes corruption is part of that game. This can, and does, take many forms. There are all kinds of scurrilous accusations in the press at the moment. Some may be true, we do tend to think the worst about people, some may not.
When the England bid fails, as I believe it will this week, there will be a lot of finger pointing concerning the allegations made in The Sunday Times newspaper and the Panorama television programme. It will be said that this is the reason the English bid failed.
England appear to have failed to build the coalition of support that is usually required to win such bidding. The Olympics in 2012 are normally offered as a counter point in such arguments. The problem with that is the report from the BBC that an accidental vote for Paris by a delegate knocked out Madrid when the Spanish capital was expected to get all of the French votes in subsequent voting and then defeat London.
Russia have always been the biggest opponent to the England bid. Opening up new markets is a goal of FIFA, a not unreasonable one.
A shame really. City would have been guaranteed games in the World Cup and unless you live in Mexico or Germany the World Cup hosting is normally a once in a lifetime event.
And Howard Webb? Go read the remarks of Lord Triesman the former head of the FA and the 2018 World Cup bid who was forced to resign after his comments about Spain, Russia and the World Cup... With those in the public record, there really was only one person who could referee the final. You can say many things about Howard Webb, but no one will ever question his integrity.