IN just over three weeks’ time Christmas will be over for another year.

And in just over two weeks, the World Cup will be over for another four.

Some will be looking forward to the final on December 18, not for the match itself but because at the final whistle it will be out of the way and we won’t have to hear about it again.

I’m taking little interest in it, and not just because my national team didn’t qualify. They rarely do.

It’s because of the annoying assumption, in all the TV and national newspaper coverage, that everyone in Britain cares deeply about the fortunes of the England team.

It ignores the fact that the citizens of Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland are indifferent to their success or lack of it.

It also overlooks the fact that not everyone cares much about football anyway. To my mind rugby is a more engaging sport, with more points scored and fortunes rising and falling more quickly than in a football match, with only a handful of goals at most and sometimes none at all.

Of course this World Cup is no ordinary World Cup. There are not just the questions about how Qatar got to host it, but why a country with such a bad human rights record was ever considered a suitable venue.

One of the many objections, and one most often mentioned, is its treatment of women and of gay or bisexual people. They can end up in jail and according to a report from Human Rights Watch they face “arbitrary brutality” from the police.

Some other Middle Eastern countries persecute them in the same way. That doesn’t make it right, just unexceptional.

But the other black mark against Qatar is the way the migrant workers building its eight new stadiums have been treated. More than 6,000 of them are reported to have died.

Many were living in squalid, overcrowded dorms and were forced to work 10-hour shifts, six days per week, in temperatures reaching 45 degrees Celsius.

Some were being paid about £1 per hour and were not allowed to move jobs – so were effectively controlled by their employers. Trade unions are banned.

It has been argued that many other unpleasant places have hosted international sport events before now. In 1978, as I vaguely remember, the World Cup came to Argentina.

At the time it was a fascist dictatorship ruled by the dictator General Leopoldo Galtieri.

Political parties were outlawed, civil rights were severely restricted, and leftists and supporters of former president Juan Peron were persecuted. And like many Latin American fascist dictatorships it was supported by the USA.

Then in 1982, as his popularity waned, Galtieri tried to boost it by invading the Falkland Islands. That left more than 900 people dead, both Argentinian and British servicemen.

But this doesn’t make it right that it should therefore come to Qatar. Perhaps it should have been denied to Argentina as well.

The unsavoury regime in Qatar and its treatment of migrant workers is the reason some friends and colleagues are refusing to watch the World Cup this time.

I respect their decision – though I imagine that if England were to reach the final they might make an exception for that match.

But I’m very aware that a boycott by a few enlightened Britons will make zero difference to the Qatari government.

On a trip to the USA 22 years ago I bought a stars and stripes tie and used to wear it to work on at least two days a year – on July 4 and on Thanksgiving, which fell this year on November 24.

I bought the tie in Bill Clinton’s last year as president, and also wore it while Barack Obama was president. I wore it again a week ago yesterday.

But I expressed my displeasure with George W Bush and Donald Trump by leaving it on the tie rack during their presidencies. However I realised that my gesture wasn’t exactly going to shake their governments to their very foundations.

You can’t topple a government with the tie you wear or don’t wear, or whether or not you watch their football matches.

It takes governments to take action. In that respect it’s rather like the environment.

We can recycle our jam jars, soup cans and copies of The Cumberland News. But decisive, large-scale action has to come from governments. The new forest being planted in west Cumbria is a prime example.

If the country that wins the World Cup was to turn down the trophy, that might actually make a difference.