So was the US World Cup 2018 bid a huge waste of time? Only if you believe there wasn't some sort of deal made between the FA and the USSF, which, come on. The two associations announced their withdrawals on the same day, for crying out loud. If they didn't want people to read between the lines, Sunil, David Dein and Andy Anson could have at least waited a couple of days.
So does the mutual England-United States withdrawal qualify as collusion? I'm hesitant to use the term "gentlemen's agreement," because the last time England tried one of those, they were steamrolled by Germany in public opinion, in the voting, and on the field.
Both the US and England have votes on the FIFA executive committee. But then, so do Qatar and Spain - and there was nothing preventing them from making two bids and lining up a similar deal. Apparently those nations tried other means, see below.
England and the US are easily the most formidable bids out there. In fact, that was the reason those countries made simultaneous bids - to prove they could. The 2018 bid was a way of saying that the United States had so many resources at its disposal that it could host the World Cup under almost any circumstances. England is similarly well situated, even if Jack Warner says so.
So the 2018 US bid wasn't a waste of time, even if there wasn't a quid pro quo with England. And if there is...well, at least no money changed hands. As far as we know.
One of the things that does worry me about the US bid is the recent scandal where FIFA executive committee members from Nigeria and Tahiti were suspended after soliciting bribes from Times reporters.
They didn't know they were Times reporters, of course. Who did they think they were? The answer is a little alarming:
I'm a little worried that worked. These are the voters. All of them.
You know those jokes about New Hampshire voters in election years? "What do you think of Mitt Romney?" "I don't know, I've only met him four times" - that joke? It should be even more applicable here. The FIFA executive committee are the only twenty-four people the USSF needs to care about. Every one of the executive committee should know Sunil Gulati, Dan Flynn, and David Downs by sight.
Which admittedly makes them fantastic targets for bribery, but that's not the point. I'm worried that Adamu and Tenarii weren't able to immediately identify people involved with the US World Cup bid. "Funny, this not-at-all-an-undercover-reporter says he's with the USSF bid, but I've never seen him before today. Eh, I'll ask him for a few bucks anyway."
Although apparently the story that the Times told was extremely plausible. Plausible enough that Spain and Qatar are in serious hot water over it, anyway. I only considered Australia a threat to the US bid, and nobody a threat to the England bid, but this is still good news for Spain and Qatar's opponents.
Unless they succeeded in bribing the other twenty-two people?
Oh, good, I was worried.
Apparently vindicated, although his name hasn't come up, is former FA chief Lord Triesman, last heard from telling his lady friend that the Spain bid a product of devilishment and treachery most foul. For some reason he hasn't been invited back to his old position yet.