Over the next month or so an estimated 3.4 billion people will switch on their TVs, laptops, desktops, smartphones, or their smart something or other and watch at least one game of World Cup football, an increase of more than six per cent compared to the last bash in Brazil.
But there are those, like my friend Paris, the gentle giant, who will be joined at the hip to his TV and not miss a single minute of the World Cup. By July 15 the Parises of this world will have watched 5,760 minutes of football – not including any VAR induced (more on this some other time) added time, extra time or penalty shootouts.
If you think that watching all 64 games is the end to a Paris addiction syndrome you are profusely mistaken.
Prior to any game, there is a detailed pre-match discussion, usually with a fellow addict who has joined Paris to watch the game (definitely not the lady of the house). Paris will babble on about who should start, who should take the corner kicks and why he believes that Brazil will come out on top.
The final whistle is the cue for another round of Paris’ insightful monologues on how the coach got it wrong and why Rivelino’s substitution was the turning point of the game.
In total, this will add another 70 hours or so of football dribble (excuse the pun) to the 5,760 minutes of football viewing giving us just under 10,000 minutes of pure football. If you work this out in days, it comes out to almost a week in a given World Cup month.
Of course, this does not take into consideration the hours spent surfing the net trying to find out why Saudi Arabia’s Al Jassim will probably not start the next game and why Harry Kane named his loving pet dog Poch.
For some, football and more specifically the World Cup, is not to be taken lightly.
As the legendary Bill Shankly once said: ‘Some people think football is a matter of life and death. I assure you, it’s much more serious than that.’
Shankly surely had something specific in mind when he said this, though I doubt it had anything to do with the cool $15 billion that President Vlad and Russia have spent as hosts to this year’s World Cup tournament.
PS. I don’t know if the gentle giant still has the Brazilian flag draped over the top of his TV set (in lefkaritikoesque style) while watching the games.