IN the world of football, there are three types of persons: the World Cup fan, the football fan, and one who doesn't give a crap.

The World Cup fan, of course, loves the quadrennial event. For one month during the tournament, he is without sleep and is giddy almost every day. He roots for a team, researches opponents, talks about it anywhere, posts about it on Facebook, and sometimes bets a month's salary for the team of his choice.

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Nothing on earth will make him miss the final, and at that moment he is happiest. If his team loses, he is devastated. If it wins, no one can be louder in celebration.

The regular World Cup fan, however, doesn't necessarily love football itself. It's the idea-as a credit card advertisement goes-of "people coming together to stand apart" that fascinates him. To him, the football is a mere medium that expresses the idea. What can be more fascinating that dozens of countries converging to celebrate in the most festive way possible?

Many World Cup fans only become one-a fan -during the tournament itself. When the tournament is done, he looks four years ahead, to the next World Cup. And then everything returns to normal.

While the regular World Cup fan isn't necessarily a football fan, the latter is inevitably a fan of the World Cup. That is the distinction.

The football fan loves everything about football, freckles and all. He roots not just for World Cup teams but football clubs as well. He may or may not play football, but he follows matches and developments all throughout the year. He dreams of football in his sleep and preaches about the game wherever he goes. Whether anyone listens, the disciple is unperturbed.

To the football fan, everything football that has transpired in the last four years culminates during the World Cup. Yet the regular World Cup fan cannot fathom his zeal for everyday football, unless he becomes one. Some World Cup fans do become football converts eventually, others do not.

Yet the football fan and the regular World Cup fan with their shared interest -the World Cup-are, in the end, kindred souls.

They probably were happiest in each other's company during the final between Spain and the Netherlands. To have missed that final would have been tragic.

Of course, there are those who wouldn't give a crap. And it is remarkable that some remain impervious to the World Cup's power to draw attention.

A couple of weeks ago in one of the local bars here, I happened to encounter three such individuals who definitely epitomize this group type. The knockout match between Argentina and Mexico at 2:30 a.m. was on, and I had to grab the nearest empty seat. On the other side of the table, the group-two guys and a lady -were taking their snacks and ignored the show.

The two guys chatted incessantly as the lady listened. Guy one talked about how he got depressed after his wife left him in Manila, and how he longs for happiness. Guy two dishes out advice, saying, "You should make a bucket list of sorts," and goes on length about how he's lost lots of money gambling.

With all the juicy details, they discussed this as if I, a stranger, wasn't there. But I can't help eavesdropping, even as Messi and Tevez were terrorizing the Mexican defense on the screen and the commentator was wetting his pants with excitement.

The lady, who was quiet all along, tried to say her piece in the rare moments there was a pause. Finally, she managed to say, "Of all the men I loved, I've never found anyone who loved me back."

What she said fell on deaf ears as her companions ratted on. At this point, Tevez scored his second and the bar erupted into cheers. The woman quietly returned to her food.

And I wondered: if some people cannot pay attention to matters of consequence, how can they pay attention to football?

(nsvillaflor@gmail.com)