This afternoon Brazil will try to salvage its World Cup with a win in the Third Place Match against Netherlands (Holland).
World Cup 2014: Brazil and Netherlands to Play for Third Place, a Game No One Wants
Brazil lost its World Cup semifinal match to Germany by a devastating 7-1 score. The Netherlands lost its game against Argentina in a penalty shootout after 120 minutes of tense scoreless play.
After each match, the losing players wandered off the field, glassy eyed, crushed that their World Cup dreams had ended so close to the final.
The last thing any of them wanted to think about for a long time was soccer.
But their World Cup is not over. Instead, the losing semifinalists have had to haul their tired bodies and their dashed hopes to Brasília, where they will compete one more time on Saturday, for third place.
The third-place game is an oddity that many coaches, players and fans wish would fade into history. Netherlands Coach Louis van Gaal minced no words about the game.
“I think that this match should never be played,” he said. “The worst thing is that there is a chance you are going to lose twice in a row. And in a tournament in which you have played so marvelously well, you go home as a loser.”
C’est la vie, M. van Gaal. The man needs to stop whining about who went first and why.
Van Gaal remains convinced, though, that the World Cup was set up to favour Brazil. “I will stick to the facts,” he said. “The facts are that Brazil started first. And Brazil again has played first again and we played a day later.
“These are the facts. I am not going to beat around the bush. Then you know what the implications are if that is the case. The question is why? I think Scolari should think about that if he wants to do that and is allowed to do that.”
Van Gaal’s annoyance has clearly been heightened by the fact that Brazil have had another day to prepare for the third-place play-off. “We have one day less than Brazil,” Van Gaal added. “We have to get into shape in two and a half days, which physically is hard.”
Although much of the protesting has slowed, the corruption and political controversy of the game continued:
World Cup 2014: Executive Is Called Fugitive in Ticket-Selling Case
by Seth Kugel, The New York Times
A police investigation into an illegal ticket-selling scheme at the World Cup took a cinematic turn as one of the suspects slipped out of an employee entrance of the luxurious Copacabana Hotel in Rio de Janeiro just minutes before the police arrived to arrest him.
The suspect, Ray Whelan – an executive with Match Services, the company contracted by FIFA to sell match tickets and hospitality packages – can be seen on security footage casually following his lawyer, Fernando Fernandes, out an employee entrance of the hotel on Thursday afternoon. Police officers arrived minutes later with an arrest warrant. Whelan had been arrested earlier in the week and then released by a judge after a habeas corpus request. [..]
The police have been investigating an alleged Ticket Mafia, as the Brazilian press has called it, that supposedly acquired and sold World Cup match tickets and packages for well above list prices. The Rio de Janeiro police have recorded 50,000 phone calls, including around 900 calls between Whelan and Mohamadou Lamine Fofana, an Algerian who officials said was the mastermind of the operation, the police investigator Fabio Barucke told The Associated Press.
Investigators have accused 12 men of charges including ticket scalping, criminal conspiracy and, in three cases, bribing police officers in a sting operation. All but Whelan and José Massih, who assisted investigators during his initial arrest, are in police custody.
Brazilians Grumble and Take Stock After Crushing World Cup Loss
by Simon Romero, The New York Times
The hosting of the World Cup has been politicized from the moment FIFA, the scandal-tarred organization that oversees global soccer, awarded the tournament to Brazil in 2007. Back then, the economy was booming and the president, Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, viewed the Cup as an opportunity to celebrate Brazil’s achievements on the global stage.
Now the economy is sluggish, in its fourth consecutive year of slow growth. While the feat of lifting millions out of poverty over the past decade remains intact, Mr. Lula da Silva’s handpicked successor, Dilma Rousseff, has grappled with widespread protests over political corruption and spending on lavish stadiums.
Just last week, a survey suggested that Brazilians were softening in their views of the Cup, buoyed by a series of stunning matches and a lack of major problems in the hosting of the tournament itself. Antigovernment protests had dwindled substantially, even though discontent continued to smolder over the public financing of stadiums when other large-scale projects remained unfinished.
On the lighter side, if you liked the Lego movies and videos, The Guardian has an on going series of videos that highlight the best and worst moments of global sports, called “Brick by Brick.” The last several have focused on the 2014 World Cup starting with the first game between Brazil and Croatia to Suárez playing hero and villain, poster-boy Neymar’s injury and Brazil’s humiliating exit
The coverage for today’s game is on ESPN with pre-game hype starting at 3:30 PM EDT and kick off at 4 PM EDT.