GOD, I love the World Cup. I’m even old enough to remember Scotland being in it a couple of times, with Stuart McCall’s goal against Sweden at Italia ’90 still emblazoned in my mind’s eye.

And even when we Scots haven’t been at the party ourselves, I have still found myself enraptured by it. Which is just as well, given our qualification record over the last 20-plus years.

Growing up, I went through all the coming-of-age football fan cliches with relish; getting the wallchart up, collecting the stickers in my Panini album, right through to work sweepstakes and World Cup barbeques, as other nations were adopted to cheer on and beers were shared in the height of summer.

Fat chance of that this year, of course, with the tournament kicking off in Qatar on Sunday, just as we finally start to feel the bite of winter setting in. But me being denied a garden party or two is the least of a long list of concerns around the greatest tournament of them all being sullied by FIFA once more.

The palpable excitement that normally permeates the build-up to the World Cup has been conspicuous by its absence this year. The timing contributes to that, of course, but so too does the stench of corruption and unease at the flagrant sports-washing FIFA have facilitated for the second World Cup in a row.

Just as I watched and enjoyed the tournament in Russia four years ago though, so too will I inevitably come to be sucked into this spectacle too, regardless of how grim the backdrop to it may be.

The scandal of the plight of migrant workers is well documented, with The Guardian estimating there have been around 6,500 deaths among them since Qatar was awarded the tournament 12 years ago. Various human rights groups say that the conditions they are forced to work in, allied to the often crippling debt it takes to get them there - and trap them there - amounts to modern slavery.

Qatari attitudes to and laws against homosexuality are also an abomination to the western ear, and that the showpiece event for what is supposed to be the world’s game – an inclusive game – is being taken to a country where gay fans would feel under threat or be forced to conceal their sexuality is a disgrace. Khalid Salman, a former Qatari international, last week described homosexuality as “damage in the mind”.

Three Lions Pride, the LGBT England fan group, will not travel to Qatar. And I completely understand the viewpoint of those such as female England international Lotte Wubben-Moy, who says she cannot and will not watch the tournament despite longing for her male counterparts to bring home the trophy.

On a personal level, I have flipped this way and that on the issue. On a cold, cerebral level, a boycott of the tournament would seem the moral course of action. By tuning in and drinking the Kool-Aid (or the Coca-Cola, in this case, one of the many sponsors whose investment in this World Cup I will in turn be vindicating), would I not be part of the problem?

FIFA, after all, have had the gall to write to all of the competing football associations urging them to ‘focus on the football’. By doing the same, and turning a blind eye to the malevolence of the game’s governing body, won’t I be tacitly endorsing them and their actions?

All of that may well be true. But on the other hand, why should FIFA deny me and millions like me of the joy that first made the World Cup so special? Why should they deny my sons the same, now they are of an age to truly appreciate the unique spectacle of the tournament?

They may not see a Scot scoring and have that warm memory to draw on, but they might just see a moment of magic from Lionel Messi, a burst of brilliance from Kylian Mbappe or – heaven forbid – a thumping finish from Harry Kane that sticks in their mind just the same and ignites a lifelong passion for the game.

The greatest Scotland goal ever from Archie Gemmill against The Netherlands. The Gordon Banks save from Pele. Diego Maradona and The Hand of God. Roger Milla dancing by the corner flag. Marco Tardelli crying with joy as he ran off after scoring against Germany. The Carlos Alberto goal in 1970.

You will all have your own special memories of the tournament, and this is the key point. All of these moments belong to us. Not FIFA. Not Qatar. But the fans.

Maybe this is a roundabout way of comforting myself as I hold my nose and revel in the festival of football, but I have come to the conclusion that the protests planned by teams on the biggest stage of all – while not nearly enough perhaps to elicit any great change at FIFA – will be enough at least to salve my conscience that the governing body are now at long last, to some degree, being held to account.

That there should even be a moral quandary and guilt attached to watching the World Cup is just one of many reasons why the tournament should never have gone to Qatar in the first instance. But I don’t think that hating FIFA and loving the World Cup – even watching it and enjoying it - are irreconcilable points of view.