The Legacy of Football

The Legacy of FootballFurthermore, continues Oliver, “I could tell my father, for example, that the longer and stupider a choreography following a goal, the more Scandinavian the team.” That if the assistant referee’s wife cheats on him, his performance is more accurate. That if one of the assistant referees is a widower, he will kick a coach off the field. That if the goalkeeper shoots free throws, he will embarrass himself at the press conference. If the fans know how much each player earns, it is the Spanish league, and if the fans know who their team members are sleeping with, it is the Argentinian league.

“But who can I relay all this new information to now?” wonders Oliver. And more importantly, with what purpose? “Because football never meant a monologue in my life, not pleasure, not fandom either; but the endless conversation between father and son. “I’m 45 years old and I have not cared about football in over 40.” I stopped caring the moment my father told me, back in the 70s, that his only dream was to see the World Cup accompanied. I was 3 years old and only sought one thing in life: something I could talk about with my dad. If he had said, instead “my wish is for you to like Panzer German war tanks” today I would be watching documentaries about the Second World War and would read about war stories. But that was not the case.

After that, “our conversation continued at home”; incessant chatter that lasted six whole World Cups. Later on the phone, emails, mail chats across the ocean. It was a happy conversation, that lasted more than 30 years. “No. I do not care about football”, reiterates Oliver. “I only cared about my dad”. Because now, at 44 minutes into the second half of any football game, I realize that the phone will never ring. Not ever, again.