Skip to main content
Part of complete coverage on

Why weeping Brazil fans applauded Germany's team

By Amy Bass
updated 1:53 PM EDT, Wed July 9, 2014
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
updated 3:41 PM EDT, Wed July 30, 2014
Stuart Gitlow says pot is addictive and those who smoke it can experience long-term psychiatric disease.
updated 12:45 PM EDT, Wed July 30, 2014
Gabby Giffords and Katie Ray-Jones say "Between 2001 and 2012, more women were shot to death by an intimate partner in our country than the total number of American troops killed in the Iraq and Afghanistan wars combined."
updated 7:57 PM EDT, Tue July 29, 2014
Alan Elsner says Secretary Kerry's early cease-fire draft was leaked and presented as a final document, which served the interests of hard-liners on both sides who don't want the Gaza war to stop.
updated 7:58 AM EDT, Wed July 30, 2014
Vijay Das says Medicare is a success story that could provide health care for everybody, not just seniors
updated 2:18 PM EDT, Wed July 30, 2014
Rick Francona says Israel seems determined to render Hamas militarily ineffective.
updated 1:43 PM EDT, Wed July 30, 2014
S.E. Cupp says the entrepreneur and Dallas Mavericks owner thinks for himself and refuses to be confined to an ideological box.
updated 9:11 AM EDT, Wed July 30, 2014
A Christian group's anger over the trailer for "Black Jesus," an upcoming TV show, seems out of place, Jay Parini says
updated 4:28 PM EDT, Wed July 30, 2014
LZ Granderson says the cyber-standing ovation given to Robyn Lawley, an Australian plus-size model who posted unretouched photos, shows how crazy Americans' notions of beauty have become
updated 3:39 PM EDT, Wed July 30, 2014
Carol Dweck and Rachel Simmons: Girls tend to have a "fixed mindset" but they should have a "growth mindset."
updated 7:56 AM EDT, Mon July 28, 2014
A crisis like the Gaza conflict or the surge of immigrants can be an opportunity for a lame duck president, writes Julian Zelizer
updated 2:22 PM EDT, Sat July 26, 2014
Carol Costello says the league's light punishment sent the message that it didn't consider domestic violence a serious offense
updated 8:51 AM EDT, Mon July 28, 2014
Danny Cevallos says saggy pants aren't the kind of fashion statement protected by the First Amendment.
updated 2:52 PM EDT, Mon July 28, 2014
Margaret Hoover says some GOP legislators support a state's right to allow same-sex marriage and the right of churches, synagogues and mosques not to perform the sacrament
updated 2:31 PM EDT, Mon July 28, 2014
Megan McCracken and Jennifer Moreno say it's unacceptable for states to experiment with new execution procedures without full disclosure
updated 1:44 PM EDT, Wed July 30, 2014
Priya Satia says today's drones for bombardment and surveillance have their roots in the deadly history of Western aerial control of the Middle East that began in World War One
updated 12:35 PM EDT, Mon July 28, 2014
Jeff Yang says it's great to see the comics make an effort at diversifying the halls of justice
updated 11:55 AM EDT, Sat July 26, 2014
Rick Francona says the reported artillery firing from Russian territory is a sign Vladimir Putin has escalated the Ukraine battle
updated 2:22 PM EDT, Sun July 27, 2014
Paul Callan says the fact that appeals delay the death penalty doesn't make it an unconstitutional punishment, as one judge ruled
updated 6:25 PM EDT, Thu July 24, 2014
Pilot Robert Mark says it's been tough for the airline industry after the plane crashes in Ukraine and Taiwan.
updated 11:10 AM EDT, Fri July 25, 2014
Jennifer DeVoe laments efforts to end subsidies that allow working Americans to finally afford health insurance.
updated 11:33 AM EDT, Sat July 26, 2014
Ruti Teitel says assigning a costly and humiliating "collective guilt" to Germany after WWI would end up teaching the global community hard lessons about who to blame for war crimes
updated 8:45 AM EDT, Fri July 25, 2014
John Sutter responds to criticism of his column on the ethics of eating dog.
updated 9:02 AM EDT, Fri July 25, 2014
Frida Ghitis says it's tempting to ignore North Korea's antics as bluster but the cruel regime is dangerous.
updated 2:50 PM EDT, Fri July 25, 2014
To the question "Is Putin evil?" Alexander Motyl says he is evil enough for condemnation by people of good will.
updated 2:03 PM EDT, Thu July 24, 2014
Laurie Garrett: Poor governance, ignorance, hysteria worsen the Ebola epidemic in Sierra Leone, Guinea, Liberia.
updated 9:49 AM EDT, Thu July 24, 2014
Patrick Cronin and Kelley Sayler say the world is seeing nonstate groups such as Ukraine's rebels wielding more power to do harm than ever before
updated 6:05 PM EDT, Wed July 23, 2014
Ukraine ambassador Olexander Motsyk places blame for the MH17 tragedy squarely at the door of Russia
updated 7:42 AM EDT, Thu July 24, 2014
Mark Kramer says Russia and its proxies have a history of shooting down civilian aircraft, often with few repercussions
updated 2:53 PM EDT, Thu July 24, 2014
Les Abend says, with rockets flying over Tel Aviv and missiles shooting down MH17 over Ukraine, a commercial pilot's pre-flight checklist just got much more complicated
updated 9:17 AM EDT, Thu July 24, 2014
Mark Kramer says Russia and its proxies have a history of shooting down civilian aircraft, often with few repercussions
updated 12:37 PM EDT, Thu July 24, 2014
Gerard Jacobs says grieving families and nations need the comfort of traditional rituals to honor the remains of loved ones, particularly in a mass disaster
updated 10:13 AM EDT, Thu July 24, 2014
The idea is difficult to stomach, but John Sutter writes that eating dog is morally equivalent to eating pig, another intelligent animal. If Americans oppose it, they should question their own eating habits as well.
updated 12:30 PM EDT, Wed July 23, 2014
Bill van Esveld says under the laws of war, civilians who do not join in the fight are always to be protected. An International Criminal Court could rule on whether Israeli airstrikes and Hamas rocketing are war crimes.
updated 8:09 AM EDT, Wed July 30, 2014
Gordon Brown says the kidnapped Nigerian girls have been in captivity for 100 days, but the world has not forgotten them.
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT