How odd to find we’re a handful of days away from a World Cup, and yet I’m really not terribly excited. Even more so, despite this being the first World Cup Wales have reached in 64 years, I’m struggling to work myself up for it.
A major reason for my apathy is something I’m really rather pleased about. Wrexham are far more interesting than the World Cup. Even a rabid fan like me doesn’t usually get to see things that way.
Having a World Cup in the middle of the season is uniquely odd, and will not be much of a distraction to Wrexham fans, I suspect. Our pursuit of promotion will take a much higher priority.
Four of our games will clash with World Cup matches, and whether we’ll be too distracted by them will depend on how Wales fare.
A week on Saturday our FA Cup tie with Farnborough coincides with the group D match between France and Denmark. Although on paper that’s one of the best games in the first round, it’s unlikely to distract die-hard Wrexham fans from the business of getting into the third round.
Things could become problematic the following Saturday though, when the long-awaited trip to York clashes with the first knock-out matches. If Wales go through in second place from Group B, their match will kick off at the same time as our match in Yorkshire.
That’s a shame, but we sold our away allocation out in incredibly quick time, which is a clear indication of where Wrexham fans’ priorities lie. We love our country and dream of seeing Wales succeed, but three points comes first.
Should Wales win our group and then triumph in the next round, the reward would be a game on December 10th which would coincide with Wrexham’s game at Eastleigh.
If the national side repeat the feat of 1958 and get to the last 8, I think it’s fair to say we might have to start paying equal attention to their progress alongside Wrexham’s efforts!
The following Tuesday, one of the semi-finals clashes with our home game against Chesterfield, but it would take Wales to reach it to take our attention away from a huge top of the table game against Chesterfield.
It’s a shame that we’re forced into splitting our interests in two directions, but let’s not forget that the inconvenience of a World Cup in December is not the main reason to be dissatisfied with the tournament.
There are very serious geopolitical reasons to feel uncomfortable with this World Cup, from the tainted process which awarded it to Qatar in the first place to the human rights issues which make rewarding the ruling regime, and putting supporters into a situation where they must put themselves at risk to follow their team, so inappropriate.
The treatment of migrant workers and women in Qatar, added to the criminalisation of homosexuality, make “sport-washing” the state’s reputation by hosting the most prestigious sporting contest on earth a horrible prospect.
We can at least take consolation from the fact that this strategy has back-fired. Far from painting Qatar as a positive state, the award of the World Cup has merely shone a light on inequalities and unacceptable treatment of whole swathes of the people who live there.
Qatar has now become a byword for corruption and prejudice, despite the efforts of FIFA to tell us to just focus on the football.
That’s the other reason why Wrexham fans will be happy to focus on domestic matters this month. We want to see Wales do well, we enjoy good football, but our priorities are clear.
Wrexham games are our focus; everything else is background noise. Wrexham’s success is our main concern; anything else is a bonus.