That’s it. We have once again reached the end of the quadrennial FIFA World Cup games. Good match, good tournament. Félicitations à l’équipe d’Allemagne.
To the Hosts, Team Brasil:
You inherited a magnificent football legacy, but this year you have failed to deliver any contributions to this rich legacy and history. How could you lose as you did in the past couple of games to Germany and the Netherlands wearing pink, yellow and orange boots? For the sake of your fans’ composure, return to the key sensibilities of your humble past if you’d like to endure the successes of a more honorable future.
On the Social Problems created by the 2014 World Cup:
In the midst of the strong disgust expressed by many Brasileiros for the sums of money allotted to this quite ostentatious tournament, evidently causing for many vital public facilities and services to suffer financially, the games took place under the reasonably explosive passions of seriously marginalized peoples. For the football spectators who really cared about the Brazilian activists and who had a serious regard for the inescapable conflicts experienced by so many Brazilian people, watching the tournament was indeed bittersweet such that the attention due to the excitement of the competition had to be split in order to necessarily remain aware of what was happening on the streets, in the favelas, to whom and in what nature. With this as the ugly yet real background, the games continued as if organized innocently in celebration of the sport that the world’s people still love to play together.
The 2014 World Cup featured great football as always but also featured a refreshing veer from the commonly anticipated success of the usually powerful teams such as those from the major Western European countries (Spain, Netherlands, France, Germany, Italy, England) along with Brasil and Argentina. While, yes, Germany won this World Cup over Argentina and while, yes, the Netherlands dominated for the most part, there were moments when it seemed that members of Third World would finally get to hold the 6.1 kilogram 18 karat gold trophy in the warm air within the crowds and zeal of Maracanã. In truth, the nature of football is unpredictability.
The match between Mexico and Holland during the Round of 16 endured as a drama. Mexico was the underdog representing a country notoriously related to drug-fueled social and economic troubles. Nederland, on the other hand, had reached the final match during World Cup 2010 and is considered to be among the wealthiest countries in the world due to their early mercantilist practices, trading in human bodies, silks, teas and spices. History aside yet still in view, with each team coming from their own context, they both proudly took the field to compete in this broadcasted international coliseum. There was that guerrilla warfare undertone of humble strength and righteousness governing every movement, pass or shot made by a Mexican player during this game. The Mexican goalkeeper, Guillermo Ochoa, had gathered much acclaim throughout the tournament for making some of the most brilliant saves seen in recent football. His efforts averted a Brazilian victory when the two teams played during the Group Stages and tied nil-nil. During the match against Holland, the two teams were tied nil-nil into the half. Such a predicament in the knockout stages sets a certain vibration in the air, filling the space with a sort of gravity making the prospect of victory from either side all the more sweet and challenging an endeavor. With the miraculous goal by Mexican Giovani dos Santos in the 48th minute of the second half, Mexico was leading by one goal up until the 88th minute when Wesley Sneijder blasted the Brazuca into the back of the net, too fast for even the peripheral vision of Ochoa. But this goal was one worthy of respect and dignity. Ochoa himself might have said ‘Golaso’, shrugging his shoulders, acknowledging with approval Sneijder’s finish, independent of the World Cup games or the fact that they are on different teams.
Watching the replay of Klaas Jan Huntelaar’s fatal penalty shot entering the goal with Ochoa flying in the other way, it is evident that Ochoa sees immediately where the ball would finally end up. The look on his face invokes an amount of sympathy because throughout the tournament, he consistently demonstrated to the world his hard work, mastery and finesse as a goalkeeper which could easily be considered the highest pressure position on the field especially during the World Cup games.
Recall Colombia vs. Brasil:
The gravity of this quarter-final match might have cut a few throats. The Brasil national team was pretty much expected to win this match given their brilliant history in the sport. Regardless of this quite normal prediction, Colombia had surpassed everyone’s expectations in reaching the quarter-finals with their undefeated record. The golden memories of their 4-1 victory over Japan among other victories – affording this modest South American team higher and higher expectations from the world viewers – reverberated over spectators, with the flashes of many cameras bathing the #10 James Rodriguez in applause and glory.
Many of the other popularly deemed “inferior” teams such as Costa Rica, Chile, Belgium and even Algeria preformed with equal or even better caliber than most expected. The 2014 World Champions tied Ghana and were nearly beaten by Nigeria. At another instance, the Champions beat Algeria by a miniscule margin of only one goal. Indeed, a margin of one goal is sufficient in winning a match but it is not absurd to wonder why Germany could not dismantle Team Algeria. Indeed, Algeria challenged Germany. Upon leaving the tournament, the North African team vowed to donate their World Cup prize money to the people of Gaza*.
Costa Rica beat Uruguay 3-1, they beat Italy 1-nil and they beat Greece in penalties due to the talents of the Costa Rican keeper. Nederland barely beat Costa Rica in penalty shootouts halting abruptly the Central American campaign of unpredictability. Chile’s national team was also barely defeated during penalty shootouts by Brasil ending their advancement just so that Brasil could go on to be humiliated in their semi-final match against Deutschland.
Still, in the end, one of the football giants, Team Germany, won. They can sew a fourth star into their kits and go on to project a great shadow over world football making manifest the skill of this 2014 squad as a contribution to a blooming German legacy of great footballers for a new generation of German athletes to inevitably inherit and perhaps advance further into the future. As this victory has nationalistic significance, it is also politically important and contributory given Germany’s position as Europe’s most powerful economy** and given recent US-Germany tensions directly between Chancellor Angela Merkel and US intelligence agencies***. Though the final outcome of German victory on the pitch was one that could have been predicted from the beginning, the efforts of the teams deemed to be statistically weak surprised us all in threatening to tip the balance in their favor making World Cup history and shifting popular football expectations for games and tournaments to come.