Pretty sad that a thread about a sports competition hosted in a cruel country gets over 300 posts, while an amazing NFL season can't even get to 50 posts after all this time.
But I suppose the controversy attracts people more than the currently controversy free NFL.
Football has always outpaced handegg on VGC, but of course both kinds of threads are down in activity by a tremendous margin. The World Cup threads of the past would get 2-3k posts over the span of ~6 weeks compared to 1.5-2k posts for ~6 months of NFL. The ratio is much worse for the NFL thread this time, but the lack of a prediction league has a serious negative impact here.
But yes, controversy boosted the WC thread. It wasn't about Qatar though, but rather the weird idea that countries from Africa and Asia were supposed to take revenge on countries of the West for the colonialism of the past. That would be like discussing illegal immigration in the USA in the NFL thread all of a sudden.