x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 July 2017

The World Cup, what a yawn

I'm looking into the possibility of self-inducing some kind of temporary coma, from which I plan to wake no sooner than July 12th.

So, who's looking forward to the World Cup in South Africa then? The chance to watch your team clash with a host of international rivals and edge closer and closer to glory only comes around once every four years. You wouldn't want to miss that, would you? Well you won't, because it's going to be on every television screen, in every home and every bar. Not to mention on every radio station. And in nearly every page of every newspaper. It will be in every conversation you have, with every person. Everywhere. Twenty-four hours a day. For a month.

You might have guessed that I'm not exactly relishing the prospect. In fact, I'm looking into the possibility of self-inducing some kind of temporary coma, from which I plan to wake no sooner than July 12th. I have nothing in particular against football, it's as mindlessly dull and pointless as any other sport. The problem with the World Cup is that it happens to be the most popular sporting tournament in the world and therefore the most inescapable. In fact, it hasn't even started yet and I'm already sick of it.

Although I'll never understand its appeal, I'm aware that football holds a special place in billions of people's hearts and that holding the event once every four years probably isn't asking too much. But I was amazed to learn that in order for the teams to have the right to play each other in the World Cup, they have to spend the previous two years ... playing each other? Isn't that a bit like flying to the moon just to make sure it's safe to fly to Spain?

I'm aware that many of the cultural institutions I care about also have a habit of eating up airwaves and dominating the daily news, but if the organisers of Glastonbury or Cannes decided to string out their next event for an entire month I'd be the first to complain about overexposure. Sure, the Edinburgh Festival bubbles away for over three weeks, but even I would complain if global TV schedules were dominated by stand-up, street theatre and interpretive dance for the duration of the event. In reality, I'm sure that many people go years without even noticing it.

While I'm very aware that my feelings are not shared by many going into an event such as the World Cup, it's amazing how many football fans also hate the sport by the time it's finished. Not because they are bored of all that incessant running backwards and forwards mind you, but because the team from whatever place they happen to have been born in got knocked out. Well, you won't get any sympathy from me.