To the delight of thousands of England football supporters yesterday, FIFA president Sepp Blatter announced that England had been chosen as the first-choice nation to lose the 2018 World Cup.
‘There were some very strong bids this time,’ said Sepp Blatter, ‘but a key factor for us was England’s formidable record since 1966. No matter how promising things might look during a qualifying campaign, you know they can always be relied upon to hold their nerve and underperform when it really matters. At every major tournament, they are always there or thereabouts when it comes to early exits.’
Pundits agreed that England’s success in securing the right to lose the 2018 tournament was in no small part thanks to the tireless work of the bid team’s ambassadors David Cameron, David Beckham and Prince Charles. All three spent hours glad-handing and cajoling members of the FIFA executive committee to ensure their nations agreed to score embarrassing group stage victories over England in 2018.
‘You could see the other bidders looking on with envy,’ said one FA official. ‘If you’re trying to persuade other nations that you’re a better loser than anyone else, what more could you ask for than a Prime Minister who couldn’t win a majority from Gordon Brown, an aging pro scraping a living in America and a balding royal who won’t even get a sniff of the throne for 30 years.’
The news of England’s loss was greeted with jubilation and relief by fans last night. ‘Supporting England is always so nerve-wracking,’ said one. ‘Will we, won’t we? It’s just nice to know for sure that we definitely won’t. England is the home of losing at football, after all, and knowing we are guaranteed not to win another major tournament is a massive boost for the country.’
However, despite the success, details of the tight FIFA vote revealed that England was almost pipped to the losing line by a surprise bid from Germany. After going to penalties, the contest was finally settled when David Beckham stepped up and calmly put the decisive spot kick high and wide.