Skip to main content
Part of complete coverage on

Why weeping Brazil fans applauded Germany's team

By Amy Bass
July 9, 2014 -- Updated 1753 GMT (0153 HKT)
A Brazil fan reacts as she watches the World Cup semifinal match between Germany and Brazil on Tuesday, July 8, in Belo Horizonte, Brazil. Germany advanced to the final with an astonishing 7-1 victory over the host nation. A Brazil fan reacts as she watches the World Cup semifinal match between Germany and Brazil on Tuesday, July 8, in Belo Horizonte, Brazil. Germany advanced to the final with an astonishing 7-1 victory over the host nation.
HIDE CAPTION
World Cup: The best photos from July 8
World Cup: The best photos from July 8
World Cup: The best photos from July 8
World Cup: The best photos from July 8
World Cup: The best photos from July 8
World Cup: The best photos from July 8
World Cup: The best photos from July 8
World Cup: The best photos from July 8
World Cup: The best photos from July 8
World Cup: The best photos from July 8
World Cup: The best photos from July 8
World Cup: The best photos from July 8
World Cup: The best photos from July 8
World Cup: The best photos from July 8
World Cup: The best photos from July 8
World Cup: The best photos from July 8
World Cup: The best photos from July 8
World Cup: The best photos from July 8
World Cup: The best photos from July 8
World Cup: The best photos from July 8
World Cup: The best photos from July 8
World Cup: The best photos from July 8
World Cup: The best photos from July 8
World Cup: The best photos from July 8
World Cup: The best photos from July 8
World Cup: The best photos from July 8
World Cup: The best photos from July 8
World Cup: The best photos from July 8
World Cup: The best photos from July 8
World Cup: The best photos from July 8
World Cup: The best photos from July 8
World Cup: The best photos from July 8
<<
<
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10
11
12
13
14
15
16
17
18
19
20
21
22
23
24
25
26
27
28
29
30
31
32
>
>>
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Amy Bass: Brazil trashed by Germany at World Cup, but it was more: It was historic
  • She says Germany's rout, with fast, furious scoring, denied Brazil its sure-thing victory
  • She says excuses can be made, but Germany was great; Brazil coach wisely said "life goes on"
  • Bass: Brazil fans gave splendid display of "beautiful game" by standing in tribute to Germany

Editor's note: Amy Bass, a professor of history at the College of New Rochelle, has written widely on the cultural history of sports, including the book "Not the Triumph but the Struggle: The 1968 Olympics and the Making of the Black Athlete." She is a veteran of eight Olympics as the supervisor of NBC's Olympic Research Room, for which she won an Emmy in 2012. Follow her on Twitter @bassab1.

(CNN) -- It was a beating, a thrashing, a rout, a waxing, a debacle. Sport is well-equipped with words to describe what took place in the semifinal match between Germany and Brazil on Tuesday, but none of them, at least not yet, can capture what really went down.

One of the oft-cited reasons Americans give for not embracing the most popular sport in the world is the low-scoring action that generally personifies the so-called beautiful game. Excuse me? In this semifinal's first half, Germany scored five goals in 18 minutes, goals that came so fast and so furious one could hardly keep track: minute 11, minute 23, minute 24, minute 26, minute 29.

Amy Bass
Amy Bass

The final score of 7-1, which propelled Germany into the final and Brazil into a game for third place, is historic in and of itself. And never before had five goals been scored in the first half of a World Cup match. Never before had four goals been scored in a six-minute stretch.

And that it took place in Brazil is no small matter. Despite the uproar over the money the nation spent building soccer cathedrals, most Brazilians were not only ready to celebrate victory, they expected it. Their national team had not lost an official game on home soil since 1975, making the dream of winning the country's sixth World Cup title seem not just obtainable, but a sure thing.

The most brutal (and funny) Germany vs. Brazil tweets

There was talk that without star striker Neymar and defender Thiago Silva, Brazil would have its work cut out against the efficient Germans. Boy, was that an understatement. The Germans handed down a 7-1 walloping never seen before in a World Cup semifinal. The game will fall in line with some of these examples of history's worst humiliations in sport. There was talk that without star striker Neymar and defender Thiago Silva, Brazil would have its work cut out against the efficient Germans. Boy, was that an understatement. The Germans handed down a 7-1 walloping never seen before in a World Cup semifinal. The game will fall in line with some of these examples of history's worst humiliations in sport.
Biggest sports humiliations
HIDE CAPTION
<<
<
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10
11
12
13
>
>>
Biggest sports humiliations Biggest sports humiliations

Without question, excuses can be made. Brazil played without its captain and central defender, Thiago Silva, who had been suspended after the match against Colombia for the accumulation of yellow cards. Without him, the Brazilian defense appeared powerless and confused against the likes of Thomas Mueller and company. Also missing, of course, was Brazil's star, forward Neymar, who had been kneed in the back by Colombian Juan Zuniga, fracturing a vertebra in his spine.

But it is unlikely even a healthy Neymar could have created balance against such offense. Germany was relentless perfection, taking advantage of every opportunity Brazil offered while simultaneously creating its own prospects.

Tears, puns and a Twitter record

Brazil fan: '7-1 is unbelievable!'
Brazil stunned by Germany in semifinal
World Cup app brings fans together

Some now worry that the disenchantment on display before the tournament started -- the fury of protests against the billions Brazil spent on the tournament marked by "Go Home FIFA" signs throughout the country -- will reignite in force, now that the home team can only hope for a third-place finish at best. Indeed within seconds of the end, Twitter feeds wrongly assumed images of rioting Brazilians demonstrated postgame fury when, it turns out, people were posting older photos of the protests that had taken place throughout the spring.

And as the inevitable finger-pointing against coach Luiz Felipe Scolari and his players begins, we can hope that sanity will prevail, taking to heart Scolari's wisdom in his wrenching postgame press conference that "life goes on," rather than the criminal soccer passion that apparently led to the killing of Colombian Andres Escobar, who scored the own-goal that led to his team's loss against the United States in 1994.

There are signs to give hope that the love for the game in soccer-crazed Brazil, a country that truly epitomizes what it means to live and breathe a sport, will transcend the devastation of the historic 7-1 score. At the conclusion of the semifinal match, weeping Brazilians stood in tribute to the German team, which had just handed them their most humiliating moment since their loss in 1950 to Uruguay, considered by many to be one of the most shocking results in World Cup history.

5 things about the beat down in Brazil

Without question, this game, and on home turf, trumps that earlier one. But the act of respect shown to Germany by the Brazilian ovation in Belo Horizonte stadium demonstrates how sometimes it is more important to love the game than to win a game.

Because it's the beautiful game, indeed.

Read CNNOpinion's new Flipboard magazine.

Follow us on Twitter @CNNOpinion.

Join us on Facebook.com/CNNOpinion.

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
December 20, 2014 -- Updated 0242 GMT (1042 HKT)
Conservatives know easing the trade embargo with Cuba is good for America. They should just admit it, says Fareed Zakaria.
December 20, 2014 -- Updated 0112 GMT (0912 HKT)
We're a world away from Pakistan in geography, but not in sentiment, writes Donna Brazile.
December 19, 2014 -- Updated 1709 GMT (0109 HKT)
How about a world where we have murderers but no murders? The police still chase down criminals who commit murder, we have trials and justice is handed out...but no one dies.
December 18, 2014 -- Updated 2345 GMT (0745 HKT)
The U.S. must respond to North Korea's alleged hacking of Sony, says Christian Whiton. Failing to do so will only embolden it.
December 19, 2014 -- Updated 2134 GMT (0534 HKT)
President Obama has been flexing his executive muscles lately despite Democrat's losses, writes Gloria Borger
December 18, 2014 -- Updated 1951 GMT (0351 HKT)
Jeff Yang says the film industry's surrender will have lasting implications.
December 18, 2014 -- Updated 2113 GMT (0513 HKT)
Newt Gingrich: No one should underestimate the historic importance of the collapse of American defenses in the Sony Pictures attack.
December 10, 2014 -- Updated 1255 GMT (2055 HKT)
Dean Obeidallah asks how the genuine Stephen Colbert will do, compared to "Stephen Colbert"
December 18, 2014 -- Updated 1734 GMT (0134 HKT)
Some GOP politicians want drug tests for welfare recipients; Eric Liu says bailed-out execs should get equal treatment
December 18, 2014 -- Updated 1342 GMT (2142 HKT)
Louis Perez: Obama introduced a long-absent element of lucidity into U.S. policy on Cuba.
December 16, 2014 -- Updated 1740 GMT (0140 HKT)
The slaughter of more than 130 children by the Pakistani Taliban may prove as pivotal to Pakistan's security policy as the 9/11 attacks were for the U.S., says Peter Bergen.
December 17, 2014 -- Updated 1600 GMT (0000 HKT)
The Internet is an online extension of our own neighborhoods. It's time for us to take their protection just as seriously, says Arun Vishwanath.
December 16, 2014 -- Updated 2154 GMT (0554 HKT)
Gayle Lemmon says we must speak out for the right of children to education -- and peace
December 17, 2014 -- Updated 1023 GMT (1823 HKT)
Russia's economic woes just seem to be getting worse. How will President Vladimir Putin respond? Frida Ghitis gives her take.
December 17, 2014 -- Updated 0639 GMT (1439 HKT)
Australia has generally seen itself as detached from the threat of terrorism. The hostage incident this week may change that, writes Max Barry.
December 12, 2014 -- Updated 2020 GMT (0420 HKT)
Thomas Maier says the trove of letters the Kennedy family has tried to guard from public view gives insight into the Kennedy legacy and the history of era.
December 15, 2014 -- Updated 1456 GMT (2256 HKT)
Will Congress reform the CIA? It's probably best not to expect much from Washington. This is not the 1970s, and the chances for substantive reform are not good.
December 15, 2014 -- Updated 2101 GMT (0501 HKT)
From superstorms to droughts, not a week goes by without a major disruption somewhere in the U.S. But with the right planning, natural disasters don't have to be devastating.
December 15, 2014 -- Updated 1453 GMT (2253 HKT)
Would you rather be sexy or smart? Carol Costello says she hates this dumb question.
December 14, 2014 -- Updated 2253 GMT (0653 HKT)
A story about Pope Francis allegedly saying animals can go to heaven went viral late last week. The problem is that it wasn't true. Heidi Schlumpf looks at the discussion.
December 14, 2014 -- Updated 1550 GMT (2350 HKT)
Democratic leaders should wake up to the reality that the party's path to electoral power runs through the streets, where part of the party's base has been marching for months, says Errol Louis
December 13, 2014 -- Updated 2123 GMT (0523 HKT)
David Gergen: John Brennan deserves a national salute for his efforts to put the report about the CIA in perspective
December 12, 2014 -- Updated 1426 GMT (2226 HKT)
Anwar Sanders says that in some ways, cops and protesters are on the same side
December 11, 2014 -- Updated 1439 GMT (2239 HKT)
A view by Samir Naji, a Yemeni who was accused of serving in Osama bin Laden's security detail and imprisoned for nearly 13 years without charge in Guantanamo Bay
December 14, 2014 -- Updated 1738 GMT (0138 HKT)
S.E. Cupp asks: How much reality do you really want in your escapist TV fare?
ADVERTISEMENT