To Russia, With Love


Wozzit the media that lost it?  Or have we just lost the plot?
Amidst all the sick parrots that are not over the moon today, time to reflect on the unimpressive way England paraded itself before football’s world masters in Zurich.

Basically the English message was this:
First, can you ignore the fact that we are accusing many of you foreigners of being bent.

OK?  Can we  please have our ball back because we really, really want it.  And we’ve even brought along a Royal figure you’ve all heard of  to say a few words. Over to you Mr Beckham.

FIFA’s two-fingered salute (just one vote out of 21 plus our own) says it all.  Plus, very clever verbal dribble by Sepp Blatter during his preamble to announcing the winner, by claiming that the beautiful game actually originated in China long before reaching Accrington Stanley. Ouch.

And what message then emerges from only one of the steam-filled dressing rooms of the defeated?  A hoard of ex-English soccer greats gulping on the dreadful realisation that the World Cup Finals may not return to these shores in their lifetime.

No thought for others like the poor Russians, who’ve never ever had a World Cup in their country to be nostaligic about.

Who cares if they haven’t built the stadiums yet. They’ll probably manage it. They were the first to put a man into space. And they own Chelsea FC.

We all know the real reason for wanting the World Cup in our own back yard – an automatic bye into the 2018 final stages.

Host nation status means no embarrassing qualifying slip ups against Poland. No history-making eight second goal humiliation by the mighty San Marino.  And playing all matches on Wembley’s hallowed turf with a Turkish linesman to rely on for goalmouth technology.

Sportsmanship, unflappability and under-stated confidence are among our national traits. We stray from them at our peril. The more we appear to beg and plead (very un-British), the greater the satisfaction for those putting the boot in.

Should there be a next time we must play our trump card. Belatedly, half-heartedly entering the fray as the unconcerned underdog. It may just work.

Until then, let the world see we can be  jolly good sports when we lose. It’s only a game, afterall. One that we gave to the world, whatever Herr Blatter says. We just need to remember from time to time that they now own it.  We don’t.

So be a true Englishman. Appear neither shaken nor stirred. Give in, gracefully, to Russia – with love.

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