Bye Bye Brazil: World Cup Loss Leaves Nation Numb

Categories: Sports
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No longer as perky...
At some point, every serious American sports fan brooding over a bitter loss has been cheerfully told "Hey, it's just a game!" What a terrible thing to say. Here's a hint: We know it's just a game. Don't patronize us. 

But in Brazil, no one says "it's just a game" when the national soccer team bows out of the World Cup -- as it did today. It's obviously more than just a game. Life in Brazil revolves around soccer in a manner inconceivable in the United States. "The companies let people go home to watch the games. The schools -- you are sent home from school," says Bernardo da Costa, a Brazilian engineer working on the Peninsula. "It's just so deflating to see them lose."

Soccer dominance is part of Brazil's national identity. So when it loses -- well, what then?

Writing a piece about Brazil's superiority in international soccer is a bit like remarking that basketball players are tall -- it's all too obvious. But sometimes it warrants going over the statistics. Here's the big one: There have been 19 World Cups. Brazil has won five of them. Astounding.

And here's another interesting angle: By dispatching Brazil today, 2-1, the Dutch became the first team other than France to beat Brazil in World Cup play since 1990 (This is arguably the nation's most crushing loss since a 3-0 pounding in the finals vs. Les Bleus in 1998).

These are somber times in South America's most populous nation. In da Costa's home city of Rio de Janeiro, he's certain there's much moping and weeping into caipirinhas. "It's like a funeral," he says. "Maybe not of a relative. But a funeral."

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