Some Brazilians welcome World Cup whipping as wake-up call

Reuters

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Brazil's Oscar (L) is comforted by coach Luiz Felipe Scolari after they lost their 2014 World Cup semi-finals against Germany at the Mineirao stadium in Belo Horizonte July 8, 2014. Brazil's Oscar (L) is comforted by coach Luiz Felipe Scolari after they lost their 2014 World Cup semi-finals against Germany at the Mineirao stadium in Belo Horizonte July 8, 2014.
Even as millions of Brazilians sobbed over the humiliating defeat to Germany in the World Cup semi-finals, some others cheered the sporting catastrophe.
Ever since Brazil was awarded the month-long tournament in 2007, detractors have argued that the $11 billion invested to stage the tournament would have been better spent on badly-needed improvements to education, healthcare and transportation.
Last year, more than a million protesters took to the streets to contrast the high price tag with the sorry state of public services and denounce a political class perceived as selfish, corrupt and tone-deaf to Brazil's true needs.
And recently, doing the unthinkable in this proud and soccer-mad country, some Brazilians actively and openly rooted against their own team.
So for them, the team's 7-1 drubbing by Germany on Tuesday brought a welcome, albeit chilling, end to a tournament they considered a distraction from bigger problems.
Now, they hope, Brazil will refocus on more pressing needs.
"I hope this suffering and disappointment wakes people up," said Sylvio Fernando Couto, a physical education teacher in Teresopolis, home of the training grounds for Brazil's team."The country is not doing well and we can't allow that to be blurred by the World Cup."
It was a sentiment echoed across Brazilian social media on Wednesday. While many vented their frustration and disbelief over the game's outcome, others chided their compatriots for putting soccer on a pedestal.
"It's just a game! We should be more angry with the millions stolen!" read one post on Twitter. "The team lost one day, our country has been losing for years," read another.
To be sure, the sentiment pales in comparison to the mass demonstrations against hefty World Cup spending last year.
But the excitement around the Cup, thrilling on-the-field action and a lack of feared organizational snafus had in recent weeks obscured the fact that Brazil's economy is actually worse now than a year ago.
Gross domestic product is expected to expand only about 1 percent this year, compared with 2.5 percent in 2013. Inflation hovers at 6.52 percent despite high interest rates.
Some Brazilians poked fun online at the coincidence between the final score of Tuesday's game and the economic situation: "Inflation 7, GDP 1."
Some of those most annoyed by the focus on soccer now hope that the upset may cause trouble for President Dilma Rousseff at the ballot box in October, when she will stand for another four-year term.
Though she is widely expected to win the election regardless of the World Cup loss, critics hope the poor showing on the pitch might be one more factor to make Brazilians want change.
"Everyone is talking about the national team's humiliation," said Jonathan Furtado, from Juiz de Fora. "What about the humiliation we face everyday with security, education, health and corruption? Wake up, Brazil."

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