It doesn’t do to mock the indignation which met Fifa’s decision to reject England’s bid for the 2018 World Cup, but so what? The bid was a complete and ignominious failure, yet those closest to it managed to scatter responsibility for its demise far and wide.

The splendid England bid team couldn’t have done more. They produced a splendid bid. They had the best technical and commercial bid, the best bid presentation. They should by rights have won. They didn’t, but don’t blame them, it’s not their fault; they’re only the bid team.

Dream on.

Fifa’s decision-making isn’t some 1990s competitive tendering exercise, market-testing run by civil servants or even a dreaded EU-regulated procurement process with evaluation methods published and well-known in advance. What England’s bid team knew in advance was – that’s not how it works.

What’s the benefit of working up the best technical and commercial bid if no-one knows how, or indeed whether, those elements are to be appraised and weighted? The bid team, it seems, were ticking boxes of their own invention.

So what was known about the process in advance?

We could start with the influence of Blatter and his visceral resentment of England, the inevitability of negative reactions prompted by any hint of English entitlement, the attraction for Fifa executives of living high on the hog from bi-partisan backroom dealing. If these weren’t factors recognised by the England bid team, how was it that Mayor Boris had arranged beforehand for Blatter and his muckers to spend a week during the London Olympics in £1000-a-night suites at the Dorchester?

Despite these factors they persisted; canvassing in the bars late at night for the promise of executive votes in a prolonged schmooze-fest, simultaneously at pains to present the charade as an exercise in rational deliberation and themselves as privy to its ground-rules. How else could they have secured 3 days face-time from the political leader of the world’s 6th largest economy and its future head of state? Someone must have put it to Dave and Wills, and been believed, that they could make the crucial difference.

To secure just 2 votes was a precisely quantified humiliation. Little wonder then that No.10 pointedly failed to congratulate Russia and Qatar as winners; that was left to Becks, the sporting one, the one who (hat-tip Paul Waugh) isn’t on record in Hansard confessing that he’s not a fan of football.

It was bittersweet.

The Cameron Boy was in his comfort zone fronting the best of four presentations. Speaking without notes, a clincher well-used before in tight games, he gave a plausible rendition of a fresh-faced business development manager in a beauty contest for a public-sector outsourcing contract. Absent from his spiel, and spiel it was, were the stock, dubious promises of ‘synergy’ and ‘partnership’; deliberate omissions, for the bid team also knew in advance that, to those it opts to prefer, Fifa makes only offers they can’t refuse.

I took a vicarious pleasure in watching him; once again failing to seal a deal, certainly, but mostly from his discomforted and unfamiliar position as a supplicant. Rejected, and surprised to be so. Isn’t the over-riding mission of his political life, after all, the removal of obstacles to the powerful and unaccountable pursuing their capricious ends? To have flattered, begged, danced and served so well, yet be peremptorily discarded at the whim of an international brand with a global reach happens daily the world over to pliable itinerant labourers, but surely not, in a public spotlight, to compliant British Prime Ministers?

The pleasure was fleeting. An ocean away, in Cancun, Mexico, another international gathering convened – the 16th Conference of the Parties under the UN’s Framework Convention on Climate Change. As political leaders and heads of state flew in and out of Switzerland, and football pundits lamented that England would not stage a World Cup in their lifetimes, the small matter of whether it remains possible for their children and grandchildren to have a World Cup, was left to their underlings.

Harold Wilson’s disparaging “all the little gnomes in Zürich” deserves to take on a fresh meaning.