Will Upton Park violence scupper 2018 bid?
The FA's announcement of an investigation into the events at Upton Park last night was swift.
That was scarcely surprising for a number of reasons, not least of which is that any international perception that hooliganism is on the rise again in English football will kill the 2018 World Cup bid stone dead.
The rest of their strategy is being meticulously planned. The messages aimed at positioning English football ahead of its likely closest rivals in Spain, Australia and the United States will be precise..
The fantastic stadiums? Already well developed infrastructure? Impeccable technical credentials? Take that as read.
The relentless hard work of the FA's International Relations team over the last 10 years? All part of the service.
It's the X factor of English football, embodied in the huge worldwide profile of the Premier League, that the FA's bid team is looking to tap into and turn into the ultimate selling point.
It's the all-consuming passion for the game they want to rely on most. Yet embracing it carries substantial risk because how passion manifests itself is something they can't control.
None of their rivals can talk of four professional leagues, of record crowds, of the tradition of travelling away in big numbers, and the unquestionable (I think remarkable) support for the national team at major tournaments.
How often have I sat in a stadium in a far flung place where red and white shirts and the cross of St George dominate the view, despite the miserly official ticket allocations for the away fans, and the shoddy treatment they have come to expect?
What's more, latterly at least, some of those fans have become genuine ambassadors for the English game.
What a far cry from my introduction to this job back at the World Cup in France in 1998, where I watched from the fringes of a riot in Marseille, ducking bottles, eyes stinging from the tear gas, despairing of my countrymen.
I'm not trying to pretend hooliganism has gone away in the intervening years, there's plenty of evidence it hasn't. But by common consent, it has got better, and there's no doubt that the measures taken by the government and football authorities such as banning orders, have played a significant part.
The FA are regularly given credit within the football world, and held up as an example, of how to try and overcome the disease of hooliganism. Let me say too, this is emphatically not just an English problem.
However, as with many things, England takes the credit for inventing it, and it has come back to bite the FA hard when it's least welcome. Remember Charleroi in 2000?
The problems in the main square of that unremarkable industrial town in Belgium were brief, overplayed on TV, over-described in the press, but when Uefa threatened England with expulsion from the competition if there was any repeat of the scenes, boy, did that have an impact!
Then, as now, England were bidding to stage a world cup, and I can't believe England's rivals didn't indulge in a little schadenfreude, a little spin and a quiet gloat.
Looking back, Charleroi was a turning point in the unpleasant history of English hooliganism. After then came the banning orders, helped by the juxtaposition of a World Cup in Japan and Korea, where the costs probably put off the committed trouble makers, and the European Championship in Portugal where a lot of fans suitably modified their behaviour for the holidaying wives, girlfriends and family they travelled with.
There hasn't been a major hooliganism incident involving England fans on foreign soil since Euro 2000, but the events at Upton Park serve as a timely reminder that nothing should be taken for granted, and the threat remains uncomfortably close to the surface.
Those who want to bring the World Cup "home" can't expect guests if the house isn't in order.
In abandoning rotation and opening the World Cup to all comers again, Fifa has guaranteed that the quality of the bids will be sky high. This will be a hugely competitive process.
Success and failure will turn on the smallest of things, so the FA's 2018 bid team have to get every nuance and detail right. If the voting members close their eyes, think of hooliganism and see an England shirt, that might be all it takes to persuade them to make a different choice.