IT’S started already.

A Danish film-crew reporting live from Qatar was harassed by o­fficials on golf-carts – one even ­threatened to smash the camera. Although the World Cup organisers have since apologised, it feels like an own goal in the opening encounters.

Never short of an opinion, the Dutch ­manager Louis van Gaal has already ­lambasted Qatar. “It’s ridiculous that the World Cup is there. Fifa say they want to develop football there. That’s bullshit,” he raged. “It’s about money, about ­commercial interests.”

Many people are only now waking up to the unprecedented levels of greed that lay at the heart of Fifa’s decision to choose to locate the World Cup finals in Qatar.

There is some justice in the fact that ­Netflix is streaming a powerful expose of the world’s most powerful and corrupt ­federation, under the title Fifa ­Uncovered.

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What a timely and well-executed show it is too, tracing the origins of ­corruption back through the years to the entangled relationships between the old rogue Joao Havelange, the Brazilian lawyer and ­businessman who served as the Fifa’s seventh president, and the fledgling ­German sportswear company Adidas. The show exposes how football media rights and vested commercial interests have worked in tandem to control ­football and reward the powerful within the game.

Among its many colourful ­characters are Jack Warner, the Machiavelli of the Caribbean and the most powerful ­figurehead in West Indian sport, and FBI informant Chuck Blazer, the self-styled “fat crook from Queens”, whose corpulent presence rumbles through the story like a heart attack waiting to happen.

All, in some nefarious way, played a role in the institutional corruption that ­handed the World Cup to Qatar.

One of the most credible and ­outspoken critics of the Qatar World Cup is the ­former VfB Stuttgart player Thomas Hitzlsperger, one of the most famous gay players in international football.

“How sick is it that we let Qatar buy the right to pretend to be something they are not,” he said last week, announcing his own personal boycott.

Hitzlsperger would have been a major coup for Qatar and they made unofficial soundings to try to convince the German internationalist to go to the tournament. He refused.

Hitzlsperger’s stance is admirable by comparison with the shameless ­hypocrite David Beckham, who led England’s bid to host the tournament and then, in an ­astonishing act of personal gain, ­effectively switched sides after having been courted by Qatar.

Nothing surprises me about this venal and overrated man and the way he is lauded by the hard-of-thinking.

We already know that the World Cup faces massive barriers to acceptability, never mind success, but it is also worth stepping back from the headlines to look at Qatar through a different set of lenses.

Firstly, there are the flaws of Eurocentric thinking. Of the top leagues in the world, the vast majority are in Europe – the English Premiership, the German ­Bundesliga and Spain’s La Liga. These are leagues that have grown through ­media rights and have a long track record of sneering at the less well-off.

This has led to the self-satisfied belief that the game is at its best in Europe and any other part of the world will fall short. While this may be measurably true, it is not Fifa’s role to continually fund the ­already well funded. It is ­responsible for global football development and ­bringing the game to regions that are emergent, or even left behind.

Fifa has long cherished the idea of ­opening up Arab nations to top-tier ­football in Morocco, Algeria and Egypt. Predictably, Fifa sought to deliver on that promise but gravitated to the oil-rich gulf states with all the attended risks of financial malfeasance and human rights betrayals.

Eurocentric thinking is flawed in ­another key respect – it carries with it the ­legacy of colonialism and globalisation.

Many of the Dutch squad going to Qatar have their origins in Surinam; the French and Belgian squads have talent from Cameroon, Senegal and Congo.

Football talent is currently at its richest in that sub-Saharan belt of African states that runs south from Senegal, through Ghana, Nigeria and the Congo. A dream team from that part of the world could variously boast Sadio Mane, Kalidou Koulibaly, Samuel Eto’o, Rigobert Song, Obafemi Martins, Claude Makelele and Christian Benteke, to name only a handful of players capable of ­gracing World Cup finals. All are light years ahead of talent that the gulf states could name.

I accept that world-class players are ­mobile and can make their way to ­Europe, but poverty and a lack of basic infrastructure still holds the game back in most ­central African nations.

Despite their exceptional talent, they are rank outsiders when it comes to mounting a serious bid to host the World Cup. It was the reverse for Qatar, a ­country with no substantial talent base but with all the resources to build ­infrastructure.

So, too, for the hugely populous nations that stretch from Pakistan, down through the Indian states, to Sri Lanka and the Maldives where, in the main, cricket ­remains stubbornly more popular than football.

There is another lens through which the debacle of Qatar can be viewed: the lens of history. The human rights abuses in Qatar, and the lives that have been lost ­building the ­stadia, are far from isolated ­phenomena.

The last World Cup was in ­Russia against the backdrop of the war in ­Chechnya, widespread anxiety about ­terrorism, an understanding that ­oligarchic wealth had funded infrastructure and that Vladimir Putin’s regime was buying global ­legitimacy through football.

A World Cup often remembered in Scotland was 1978 in Argentina where wee Archie Gemmill brought belief back to Scottish football by waltzing through the Dutch defence to score that iconic goal in Mendoza.

THE 1978 World Cup final raised the spectre of match-fixing and was exploited by Argentina’s military government to shore up the junta and win over a ­sceptical populace. Not only was it a tournament widely criticised in Scotland, the run-up to the finals was a cause-celebre for the left in the country, who protested against Scotland’s acclimatisation game against Chile, which was held in the ­gruesome Santiago Stadium where ­opponents of Pinochet’s military regime were ­assassinated.

With Scotland already out of the World Cup or heroically boycotting the finals, if you prefer, there will not be the same level of scrutiny as in 1978, when much of civic Scotland, including the STUC, waged a boycott against our game in Chile.

This time round there is no great ­appetite for national boycotts, but there is a genuine concern about the deaths that have been racked up in the pursuit of global visibility.

There is one final lens for how all of this will be judged – the lens of football itself. Last week, Fifa’s current president

Gianni ­Infantino published a tone-deaf and misguided letter to participating nations and the ­media.

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“We know football does not live in a vacuum and we are equally aware that there are many challenges and difficulties of a political nature all around the world,” Infantino wrote. “But please do not allow football to be dragged into every ideological or political battle that exists.”

His “play up and play the game” plea falls drastically short of a response to Qatar but it also contains an irreducible truth. A week into the tournament and the bandwagon will move on. There is ­already speculation that Lionel Messi might lead Argentina to glory. Will he bow out as a football superstar, rivalled only by the god-like Diego Maradona? Has the time come for an African ­winner? And what of the Eurozone – Germany, England, Spain, Belgium or France – all contenders to go to the closing stages.

Scotland is not there but a substantial number of Scottish-based players are. St Mirren fans are excited about the prospect of their young star Keanu Baccus becoming a household name. Meanwhile, St Johnstone fans are hoping that their triple-cup-winning legend David Wotherspoon takes the field for Canada.

Ironically, it is football that may end up saving Fifa’s battered reputation. It was a catastrophic mistake agreeing a deal with Qatar, but events on the field may yet ­triumph. We shall but see.