THE World Cup is not yet upon us but already I'm sick to the back teeth of it.
Wherever one turns it is there, like a bad smell that resists all attempts to clear. Everyone who has been able to find an excuse to be in Brazil is there.
The BBC has sent more staff than the MoD did to recapture the Falklands. It is one humungous jolly, underwritten by licence fee payers, many of whom couldn't care less whether Luis Suarez recovers in time for him to take a chunk out of Wayne Rooney.
It is, we are repeatedly reminded, so many years since England lifted the Jules Rimet trophy that if it goes much longer there will soon be no one left alive who remembers it. Roll on that happy day.
Were it possible I would escape to some part of the planet untainted by this soccer orgy. But where? Once during a World Cup, I went island hopping, naively thinking that nobody on Rum or Coll could give a damn about what was going on in Mexico.
How wrong I was. In all of these places, there was the first outbreak of a contagious fever since the Alexander Fleming invented penicillin.
Back then, of course, we (that is) Scotland, were involved, which is never a good thing, given the effect on the national blood pressure. The benefit health-wise of not qualifying must surely be incalculable.
In the intervening period football has lost whatever innocence it had. It is now, its devotees never cease reminding us, a global game. The likes of Messi and Ronaldo are household names, familiar even to high court judges and classical composers.
They make obscene amounts of money, to the point where they don't really know what to do with it. Even mediocre players are richly rewarded. The average weekly wage of an English premier league player is £35,000.
Virtually no-one on the playing side of Manchester City, which is owned by Sheik Mansour, the Deputy Prime Minister of the United Arab Emirates, earns less than £100,000 a week. The aforementioned Wayne Rooney pockets more than double that.
With so much lolly swilling around, are the allegations surrounding the award of the 2022 World Cup to Qatar really a surprise? Qatar, which has two-thirds the population of Wales and is about the half the size of Lanarkshire, has no footballing tradition to speak of. Why would it? It's just a big oil well. And it's hot, blisteringly so. The only way games can be played in such temperatures is under cover with the air con turned up to full blast.
Nor is there is any water to speak of. What water it has is "negligible", which is about enough to keep cacti alive.
To accommodate the tournament, the Qataris must build a dozen stadiums, which is 11 more than the country probably needs. Of course, the Qataris will not themselves be getting their hands dirty.
That will be the prerogative of workers from the Far East labouring in appalling conditions. Yet when Qatar's bid prevailed, there was little in the football press to suggest anything untoward might have gone on.
Indeed, one of its earliest and most enthusiastic backers was Sir Alex Ferguson, who was impressed by the non-existence of crime and hooliganism, Qatar being an alcohol-free zone.
In the light of recent revelations, there have been calls to rerun the bidding process. If that comes to pass, I will eat a football fried in batter.
What's most likely to happen is that Fifa and its pig-headed president, Sepp Blatter, will do nothing other than cry foul and appeal to chums in Africa and Asia to ignore the whistleblowers.
Yesterday, for instance, Blatter described the British media as "racist". He is seeking re-election and is virtually certain to get it. Like a rogue state, Fifa is answerable to no one and regards any outside interference as an afront. As an organisation, it is about as transparent as the Camorra.
Meanwhile the current World Cup will be played against a backdrop of street protests. Three cheers to that.
Ever sensitive to criticism of pampering, a handful of English players were taken recently to a slum in Rio, a PR stunt one of them described as "enriching". For once, he did not mean literally.
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