We are in strange times. We know that and we see that every single day. The most discombobulating event in these strange times is surely though a men’s football World Cup tournament being held in November and December.
I could comment upon whether a World Cup in Qatar is the right thing or not. I think that the arguments around the selection process, migrant worker rights and safety and, more widely, Qatar’s approach to human rights and, in particular, ideas about or statements issued on the subjects of LGBTQ+ rights and relationships within and out of wedlock, are well rehearsed. You can do your own thinking, your own research and your own reading, on these issues.
Putting those desperately serious issues to one side and less seriously it might be worth just discussing how we are all going to plan to cope with the World Cup which starts in just two days time. Usually when a men’s football World Cup takes place in the summer we’ve had a long break away from football, the sun may well be shining and there aren’t a whole host of other distractions; there’s very little else on in June and July (apologies to those who are interested in Wimbledon).
In more typical times, many of you would’ve planned your social diaries around the games, with many establishing routines to fit in with the published fixtures. The excitement of awaiting a Brazil v Italy or Argentina v Holland? It’s a mark of how strange this World Cup is that I have yet to see a wallchart which I could use to plan those occasions and then record the match results. For me it’s difficult to muster the right degree of enthusiasm. It seems unnatural to be trying to concentrate on such an important event at this time of year. There are far too many other distractions for me, events in the social calendar, alongside the normal run up to a Christmas break. I feel that the lack of lead up (the month of discussions, breaking news items, coverage from the camps and the obscure matches played in preparations for that ‘big’ first game) leaves me severely unprepared for the televisual onslaught. I’ll work through this, of course. We’ll all get through this, of course. There are more important things happening in the world right now however I do hope that the football, not necessarily the location of said football, does provide us with a suitable distraction, without totally diverting us from everything else that we need to typically do it at this time of year.
Really, my mind is not on the tournament. It’s not on England winning the tournament; I can barely rustle up the energy to meekly hollow ‘Come on England’. And England’s women’s team have set such a high bar this year. Equally, my mind’s certainly not on Wales winning the tournament. However, I hope that both teams do go deep into the tournament and provide both nations with a little joy in the coming weeks.
‘Football is a simple game. Twenty-two men chase a ball for 90 minutes and at the end, the Germans always win’. Gary Lineker
‘Football is the most important of the less important things in the world.’ Carlo Ancelotti
As you prepare, I wish you all the very best of luck.