If you ask me to name a football match which I really tried to find the time to watch during the 24 years I lived in Iran, I can only name one game: Iran vs Australia matches to qualify for the 1998 France World Cup.
I never cared about football in my life. However, my father was a big fan of football. He would watch anything. From third-rate European club games to Serie A of Italy and Iran's Azadegan League. In other words, whatever football match the Iranian State TV deemed ok to broadcast, my father would have liked to watch. Seriously.
Many times, when I was a kid, I wanted my dad to play with me or hang out and such, but, many times he chose watching football over me. I actually used to think of football as my rival. So, many times, when a football match was on one of the few TV channels, I would not inform my dad that a football match was happening even if no other interesting program was on. Imagine this: my dad and I were in the living room, and of the then-four channels, three of them had clerics talking about Islam and such, except for one channel showing a football match. And, I knew it was happening. But, I'd rather have the TV show a cleric babble than my dad's watching another football match.
Every minute he would watch football was a minute he was away from my mother, and siblings and me.
My dad usually left home at 7:00 AM for work and returned about 5-6 PM nearly everyday. He and my mother were never on friendly terms (whenever they talked, it ended up in arguments and shit) as far as I remember. I also blamed this on football. "Football is the reason my dad never bothers to take the time to talk to my mom and hash things out." "Football distracts my dad from everything including his family." I was a kid, you know.
(I think the other reason I did not like football was I was queer and I did not know it. But, whatever.)
Now, months after my father's death (last year about these days), I am finding out that I love, love to watch every single game of World Cup. This can mean either of the followings: (1) I am getting old and boring. (2) I am looking for the entertainment my dad was so addicted to.
If (1) is true, well, any conclusion will be as boring as fuck, so, I skip it. But , if (2) be the case, then it is my unconscious mind finding ever weird ways to cope with the unfading pain of loss.
And, I am grateful for it. When I am watching matches of this World Cup, I am remembering my dad: his excited, and funny half-jumps from his chair when a goal was in the making, his shouts, his Ahhhhhs, his triumphant grin when his favorite team was scoring, his frowned look when the "damned referee" was ignoring fouls, and his cheerful demeanor when Iran's National Football Team was recognized as the winner at the end of any match. He would stand up, and slowly, excitedly spin around with a smile and kiss anyone who was close on their cheeks. Even my mom did not object to those kisses.