Find­ing it hard to get ex­cited for Russia

The Corkman - - SPORT -

OB­VI­OUSLY had Ire­land qual­i­fied it’d be to­tally dif­fer­ent. Then it would have been World Cup fever, nov­elty songs, flags out bed­room win­dows and all the other madness. Sto­ries of lads get­ting loans from the Credit Union, sto­ries of lads head­ing off from Ross­lare in cam­per vans and head­ing across the vast ex­panse of con­ti­nen­tal Europe on the ul­ti­mate road trip.

Of course we haven’t qual­i­fied and there’s none of that sort of thing – An­gela, you’ll be happy to know, we’re at home, work­ing hard and pay­ing down the debt. If we’re be­ing bru­tally hon­est, for what­ever rea­son, the build up to this World Cup has pretty much passed us by and we’ve been left won­der­ing why.

It’s not just be­cause Ire­land aren’t there – we weren’t there for any of the pre­vi­ous three cham­pi­onships and it didn’t re­sult in this sort of in­dif­fer­ence from us. Maybe it’s be­cause Italy aren’t there? Maybe it’s be­cause the Nether­lands aren’t there?

Per­haps that is the rea­son, but we can’t shake this feel­ing that it’s be­cause the cham­pi­onships are on in Russia. A place we now as­so­ciate with Mr Putin, with shady links to Brex­i­teers (as re­vealed in block­buster re­ports last week­end) and to the Trump cam­paign.

There’s been this drip-drip of re­port­ing about the ma­lign in­flu­ence of Putin’s Russia on Western democ­ra­cies for at least the past two years. In that con­text it’s hard to get too ex­cited about what might hap­pen on the steppes over the next month or so. Hope­fully once the games be­gin we can fo­cus on the football and for­get the pol­i­tics. But maybe that’s what we’re afraid of?

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