In a world where images of extravagant suffering from armed conflict, starvation and natural disaster confront us daily, the distress of Brazilian football fans still made for emotionally uneasy viewing.
There will be those dispassionate or disapproving observers who see the overspilling Brazilian grief as an unnecessary, self-indulgent miseryfest. Should people care this much about sport? The fact is they do. And not only sport. Whether it's out of indoctrination or some more profound need, many of us invest our passions where we find it brings us not just stimulation, but the prospect of joy.
Brazilians invest hugely in football not just as a part of their cultural identity, but perhaps even the purest expression of it. And as World Cup hosts that ardour has also been reflected in an exercise of monumental expense. In time they will reflect on how much it cost them to feel quite as bad as they did during the team's 7-1 evisceration at Germany's hands.
For many of the billions watching worldwide, the spectacle was part thrilling, part sickening. Just days ago the world was reminded of the sudden-death cruelty of the penalty shootout system. It seems almost mercifully brief compared with the almost medieval-paced execution that Brazil endured after the deepest cuts were inflicted.
Germany finds itself in the curious position of being, simultaneously, the victor yet of far less worldwide interest than the loser. Brazil's performance was pitiable, even for the scenes of some stunned fans applauding, instinctively, some of the superior German goals.
What now for Brazil? That seems every bit as big a question as who will now win the tournament. The danger is a nightmare of reproach and recrimination, though there have already been signs of almost desolate bravery from some of the Brazilians, players and fans alike.
Certainly coach Luis Felipe Scolari was a model of accountability: "Who is responsible for this loss? I am".
There's a temptation to portray Brazil as an almost godlike team of natural-born masters of football. But there's a fragility to most fields of human endeavour and the reminders can be hurtful. Next comes the test of resilience.
- The Southland Times
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