I’m as speechless as any sports fan on this planet. Seven-to-one. That’s how badly Germany defeated – no, demolished – Brazil in the semi-finals of the soccer World Cup on Tuesday.
Granted, Brazil was without two of its best players, team captain Silva and star striker Neymar. But even so: 7-1? The Bloodbath in Belo Horizonte – at a World Cup Brazil is hosting, no less – was the worst humiliation South America’s soccer superpower has ever and probably will ever suffer.
And all I could keep thinking as time ran out was: This is the best thing that could have happened to Brazil.
Not to Brazilian soccer. To Brazil.
Go ahead and throw caipirinhas in my face. But I mean it. Brazil may be the world’s sixth-largest economy today. But if the past year of angry street protests in that country has signaled anything, it’s that Brazil needs to get its priorities sorted out if it’s ever really going to join the club of developed nations.
Brazil’s inordinate obsession with soccer hasn't made that exercise any easier. As one Brazilian here in South Florida recently told me: “We’ve become too accustomed to using soccer to hide things we don’t want the rest of the world to see.”
Just how out-of-whack is Brazil’s mania de futebol? Consider the atmosphere surrounding Brazil’s quarter-final Cup match against Colombia last week.