For Americans to somehow understand how Brazilian fans felt today, just think of the extreme joy that even today many Americans feel about the amazing hockey gold medal that the U.S. won @ Lake Placid in 1980. Even today people talk about it and it touched our nation like few sporting events then or since. Brazil feels the exact opposite.
I’m lucky as a casual soccer fan. I’m part Spanish and part German. For 6 years I’ve enjoyed being a fair weather fan celebrating the greatest 6 year reign in the history of soccer, by Spain. Now Germany is on the verge of possibly reclaiming the World Cup. Something happened to me along the way.
I’ve always been a pretty sensitive person to peoples struggle and pain and today was hard to watch. As I was enjoying the complete German domination to the undermanned Brazilians, I started to watch the people in the stands. I saw a young grand daughter with tears in her eyes, trying to comfort her grandfather who was clutching a replica of the World Cup. You could see them quietly holding hands sharing a comforting moment knowing that the one thing Brazil holds most dear, was now being destroyed. The tears and sheer pain in the stands at their dream being destroyed by the steady and powerful German team, was something many struggled to watch.
To the credit of the German team, they also realized what was happening. In the second half, famous soccer analyst Tommy Smith admitted that the Germans were now missing shots and trying not to score. Germany could feel the pain of the players and the fans and their goal was not to crush a country; they just wanted to move on to the finals of the World Cup. The graciousness of the German team after the contest was a great show of class to a team that was obviously stunned and broken.
The sadness in the stands wasn’t just over losing or being dominated. It was literally a destruction of their hopes for a little glimpse of sunshine in an obvious bitter and sorrowful time in the great country of Brazil. The country and people of Brazil were playing poker by spending billions to get the World Cup and they had a full house and wen’t all in; unfortunately Germany had 4 of a kind.
Many Americans at the World Cup have commented online about the shock of seeing such severe poverty in Brazil. Most Americans that could go to Brazil, I’m sure are doing well financially, so their shock must be even more severe. There is a reason so many people have been protesting in Brazil.
Like so many countries; including our own; Brazil has lost their way. The gap between the rich and the poor is beyond large. Right now 40% of the money in Brazil is owned by the richest 10%. The poorest 10% have less than 1% of the money. The slums known as favelas in Brazil would leave any American shocked. Their crime rate is very high. Their infant mortality rate in poor areas is also very high and usually schools in poorer areas get a fraction of the education and support that schools in rich areas do.
Many Brazilians were outraged that the country would spend billions for the World Cup while letting their own people suffer. Protests were angry and sometimes violent.
The 2014 World Cup was filled with controversy and turmoil. Some of the stadiums were barely completed days before the World Cup started and just last week an unfinished overpass that was supposed to be used for the soccer tournament collapsed and killed and injured many people. What a waste of life and money.
The Brazilian government has admitted that many stadiums will never be used again or barely be used after the tournament. Brazil spent 300 million dollars building a stadium in Manaus which is the 4th poorest of the 26 Brazilian states. An amazing 25% of the cities inhabitants live in extreme poverty. There is no major soccer team there and after the World Cup, it will become a white elephant that has no chance of ever filling up with fans again.
There are also still many roads and other structures that were partially built and were never finished. The protesters predicted as much.
This is why this loss is so devastating to Brazil. The upper 10% thought of the glory and joy of proving that the billions spent on this World Cup were worth it, by bringing a soccer championship. They felt that winning would bring joy, hope, pride and positive publicity to a country struggling to watch out for it’s own. The protesters now were proven right, and many Brazilians will now have nothing but despair thinking back to the 2014 World Cup. To spend Billions and neglect your people in the hopes of glory, and then getting beaten 7-1 in the semi-finals was too much to bare for many.
Now tomorrow all of South America will be rooting for Argentina. They all dreamed of an all South American final with Argentina and Brazil. To have the Netherlands and Germany in the finals would bring a sadness to a soccer crazed continent that may be unequaled. All eyes will be on Lionel Messi and Argentina.
I pray for Brazil. I pray that things will get better for many of the people. I hope that something happens with the government and that the greed and desire for wealth and glory will be exchanged for feelings of compassion and pride in helping give opportunities to everyone. I pray that the team will play well in the consolation game, and I hope that they win and a little smile will be put on peoples faces. And lastly, I pray that the young girl will have many happy years of joy with her grandfather. The people of Brazil deserve no less.