David Beckham, one of the most famous English footballers the world has ever seen, and Eddie Afekafe, a former gangbanger whose, in his words, life was saved by his local football club Manchester City and a community project, KickZ Project, and who now is a community worker himself, poured their hearts out during England's bid presentation at 10am GMT on 2nd December 2010. But England lost the bid.
They didn't just lose the bid; they lost spectacularly, being the team to go out in the first round of voting. They only got two votes. And one of those was from Geoff Thompson-an Englishman. So only one neutral member of the FIFA Executive Committee were moved enough by Beckham opening up about his relationship with his late grandfather, and Afekafe talking about how close to the edge he's been, to vote for the England 2018 bid.
Alright, people will cry corruption and say it's all the BBC'S fault, but it must still hurt for Beckham and Afekafe that they were real and they were raw and FIFA members got one big ink stamp and whacked 'REJECTED REJECTED REJECTED' all over their hearts, all over their words. After all, Beckham was visibly emotional as he made his speech at the presentation, whilst Afekafe bravely opened the entire presentation by talking about-and showing that-as Seb Coe once said, sport is the hidden social worker in our communities.
Beckham summed it all up when, after the big rejection, he told a reporter, "When you do work so hard for something, and you don't get anything at the end of it, it's obviously disappointing and crushing".
Now, I didn't put any work into the bid. All I did to visibly support it, really, is sign a petition in a supermarket about six months ago and follow the bid's official Twitter. So I can not imagine the degree of pain for everyone who did work hard, and invested so much time, energy and emotion into it. I'm only guessing that they feel personally rejected. After all, you go to all that effort, you show that what this really means to you, and only two people care. Everyone else thinks that oil money, hot Russian gurlz, or what a television show says, is more important than the fact that football saved your life. Shows how much they value your life.
I can relate to the personal rejection thing. You lay your heart on the line. You say 'this is what I'm about' and the person you're opening up to says 'Whatever'. I know what that feels like. I don't usually show emotion, but once in a while, I decide to let the barriers down and express my deepest, most intimate feelings to those I feel the most for. And I always get rejected. So the barriers go back up. Thankfully Beckham and Afekafe are probably stronger than me and hopefully won't let this affect them too much. They were fantastic. The bid was fantastic. I hope everyone involved knows that. I will not forget what they did for my country and I. I know what a big gamble they took, because I've gambled with my heart too. So I'm forever grateful.