World Cup fever
I don’t know about you but the fact that the World Cup starts on Sunday in what will be a dreary day in November is just odd. There’s that and also the fact I feel a little dirty if I’m honest watching. I’m not normally of high moral standing, but the fact that Qatar even got given the rights to hold the planet’s best month of sport, only held once every 48 months, or longer if it is somewhere too sweaty, is still nothing short of disgusting.
Then again, it is hardly my or your fault, or the players. I have just finished watching Netflix’s FIFA Uncovered which was a very timely reminder of how corrupt FIFA was, and they are hardly saintly now. What a con. Money talks and bullshit walks.
For all of the well documented reasons and probably a load of others we really should not be tuning in on Sunday, fans should not be travelling at great expense to cheer on their nations, coaches, staff and players should not be belittling themselves on the world stage, and TV companies should refuse to cover it, yet the world has known their cup was going to be played there for 12 years, and no one has appeared to have prevented it, so who am I to turn my back on the telly for the next 4 weeks.
Of course sponsors don’t care about the dirty lucre, but some need to be a bit classier about bending over and getting a tank load of petroleum stuffed up at their backside. I’m looking at you Becks. And good for you Dua Lipa, I always had a soft spot.
It will be interesting to watch the narrative, and to see how many times Gary Neville highlights Qatar’s human rights record.
Nonetheless, sport and particularly the world’s beautiful game is bigger than politics, it says here, and football begins it’s journey home on Sunday and then at 9am Bermuda time on Monday when I will, ahem, work from home the three lions get involved in the tournament’s second game when we play Iran in Al Rayyan.
I am a bit glass half empty on England’s chances, the squad doesn’t inspire me, and the defence will be our downfall, yet we have enough attacking flair to really take it to teams especially in the group, and I’d love to see it. However I suspect that may all be a bit over enthusiastic for Gareth Southgate.
For winners it is hard to see past Argentina, Brazil and France. Any underdog that scrambles out of the group will likely be met by one of the World’s best in the Round of 16. Who can go further than that? Uruguay, Senegal, Serbia, the U.S.A perhaps? I’d be pleased to see Belgium go as deep into the tournament as they can and I have had a soft spot for the Netherlands since 1974, and Louis Van Gaal’s story pulls at the heart strings, plus he doesn’t care how honest he is. I always live in hope that Le Oranje light up a World Cup.
As for the Addicks, our interest ended in the most cruelest way for Joe Wollacott in the warm up on Saturday. Truly gutted for the fella. Joe’s absence also hits Thomas and the club in the pocket as FIFA pay national player’s clubs $10,000 per day for each player for the time they are at the tournament including preparation.
Strangely, or perhaps not in the mind of a FIFA accountant, clubs will also receive monies for any player that played for a club back to the start of qualification, so by my reckoning we’d still be liable to receive $10,000 per day for Chris Gunter, Jonny Williams and even loanee Dylan Levitt!
I will doubtless swallow my pride and get into the tournament with pretty much four games a day in the first week. The games here are reasonably timed – early morning 6am, 9am breakfast time, lunchtime and mid-afternoon early beers.
The 2022 World Cup is unique in so many ways, and few good ones. Will we see beer swilling fans larging it on the Doha Corniche, will it really be a festival of football and by the end of the month will virtue signalling be the buzzword? All very odd.
This is the World Cup that has appeared from nowhere, not just the timing, but Qatar’s stadiums, infrastructure, hotels, even the population. Are they and their people ready? Are we ready? I don’t know, but it’s going to kick off in a couple of days and I’m off to find my St George’s flag.