These Brazilian Companies Were Ruined By The 2014 World Cup

SÃO PAULO — Daniel Okamoto has bad memories of the 2014 World Cup, but not because of Brazil's historical and humiliating 7-1 defeat to Germany. "My company went virtually bankrupt because of the World Cup," the businessman says.

The firm, Dahouse Events, won a modest bid for a 300,000-real contract ($83,000) to make costumes for the opening and closing ceremonies. But Okamoto never got the money.

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After World Cup, Brazil Returns To Normal - What A Shame!

Can Brazil apply the successful “Copa template” to everyday life and political leadership? Too often, the country tends to disappoint when the rest of the world isn't watching.


BRASILIA — The World Cup is over, and with it our dream of being World Champions for a sixth time is deferred again, this time at home. Germany’s victory yesterday against Argentina came as a reward for their superb planning, and the best team of the competition were crowned.

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Hey BRICS, We've Got A P.R. Problem

Media in emerging economies must start to challenge the dominant voice of the Western press, argues Xinhua News Agency chief Li Congjun in a guest column for America Economía.

Over the past few weeks, I've enjoyed all the emotion of watching the World Cup games. My disappointment with the absence of the Chinese national team was in part mitigated by the fact that many of the products and services at the event came from China.

For example, many of the Fuleco mascot dolls were made in the Chinese province of Zhejiang, while a Chinese solar panels firm provided energy-saving solutions for stadiums.

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The Bigger Meaning Of Germany's National Team

The Mannschaft's World Cup winning team was the perfect embodiment of what Germany hopes to be perceived as — a mix of artistry, perseverance, solidarity and individual freedom.

BERLIN — Our national soccer team's appearance Tuesday with the World Cup trophy at Berlin's Brandenburg Gate, their triumph will also move to the core of the Republic.

The summer of 2006 — when Germany hosted the World Cup and finished third — was a fairy tale for the country. It resulted in a sort of miracle: Germans made peace with themselves in the face of a young soccer team, whose charm and joyful playing style had little to do with the scrappy, uninspired play of its predecessors.

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Argentina, The Pain And The Pride

After its heart-stopping World Cup defeat to Germany, the expression of what the national team and the beautiful game mean to the people of Argentina.

BUENOS AIRES — The emotional impact of the World Cup final with Germany was tremendous.

The gangs of youth in the capital went on a vandalistic rampage on Sunday evening after Argentina's 1-0 defeat to Germany, trying to ruin a national fiesta, but they failed to steal the joy and pride our team has given to us.

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Julie Farrar

Germany Wins World Cup: Front Pages Around The World

Germany's 1-0 win over Argentina was front-page news around the world. Here are some highlights:


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World Cup Battle Of The Popes

With Pope Benedict XVI's historic resignation last year, and the subsequent election of Pope Francis, the Catholic Church has the rare circumstance of two living pontiffs. (In the past, popes had almost always reigned until death.)

Now, with the World Cup soccer final set between Benedict's native Germany and Francis' native Argentina, Worldcrunch's photoshopping maestro Bertrand Hauger had a historic opportunity of of his own...

Natuza Nery and Valdo Cruz

Brazil's World Cup Humiliation Threatens Dilma's Reelection

BRASILIA — What will be the political and economic reverberations of Tuesday's historic humiliation of Brazil’s soccer team?

The government of President Dilma Rousseff is already on alert, fearing that the national bad mood left by the 7-1 defeat at the hands of Germany may deepen the already rather bleak Brazilian economic forecast, and have an impact on the upcoming presidential election slated for October.

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Benoît Hopquin

World Cup Detour With Amazonia's Indigenous

MANAUS — The “City of God,” a poor neighborhood in the Amazonian city of Manaus, is a place that must be earned. It is a chaos of streets and houses where the inhabitants keep piling up, encouraged more by the illusion of escaping poverty than by poverty itself.

To find the neighborhood, you have to leave the town center, drive to the edge of the forest, search, go around in circles, and search some more. Then, finally, after the Botafogo bar, at the end of a dead-end road, with the ruts still drowned by the previous day’s torrential rain, we find the home of Bernardino Alexandro Perreira.

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Francesco Semprini

World Cup Dreaming For Iraqi Children Fleeing Jihadists

QASYAR — Ahmed is wearing a Barcelona soccer jersey with Argentine superstar Lionel Messi’s name on the back. Rasheed has Rodrigo Palacio's from Inter Milan, while Samad is sporting the Chelsea shirt of Brazil midfielder Oscar dos Santos Emboaba Junior.

While their heroes compete in the World Cup on the other side of the world, these Iraqi children are refugees in their own country after the latest jihadist offensive. Holding onto these players' dreams is a way to try and cling to the very innocence of youth threatened by the upheaval around them.

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Ricardo Kirschbaum

How Globalization Undermines Soccer's Elite

The international movement of talent has helped level the playing field of top national soccer teams. Among other things, it has also produced the most wide-open World Cup in memory.

BUENOS AIRES— Of the 22 players who took the field in the Argentina-Switzerland match in the last World Cup round, only one plays in his national league. Argentine midfielder Fernando Gago, who has had stints in the Spanish League with Real Madrid and Valencia, now plays for Boca Juniors in Buenos Aires. All the rest, including replacement players, play for the world's top league teams, especially the European ones.

One conclusion we can draw from what we have seen in the World Cup so far is that there is a striking parity in both playing level and tactics among teams, and this includes those earlier singled out as much weaker compared to the traditional powers.

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Elías Selman Lutz*

Finding Soccer's Universal Light In Bitter Defeat

After the heartbreaking loss to host Brazil, a diehard Chile fan ponders the real meaning of the World Cup in a world with so much else to worry about.

SANTIAGO — I've been lying in bed all afternoon, face down, almost choking — for a bitterness I can barely describe. It was that almost goal in minute 119 in the match to qualify for the World Cup quarterfinals. My only consolation, after losing to host Brazil in a penalty shootout, is the pride I feel for the team of Chileans that represented us in Belo Horizonte.

I may be writing this to distract myself, who knows? Why do I feel like this if it is only soccer? How would my life have really changed had Chile won? What the hell is it about the sport of futbol that can make a whole country go into mourning? To make players like Gary Medel and Arturo Vidal risk their young careers to give everything for their country? What on earth makes people with no tickets run up untold amounts of debt to travel 4,000 kilometers to be near their team?

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Monica Bergamo

World Cup Pick-Up Scene, Where Brazilians Pretend They're Foreigners

SAO PAULO — Asking “How are you?” in English was the way Igor Mendes, a 26-year-old car dealer, approached Marcela Paes one night in Vila Madalena, the “in” district for Brazilians and foreigners enjoying La Copa in Sao Paulo.

Unaware that Marcela is a reporter and fluent in English, he presented himself as a Scot. Soon, though, his cover was blown when he mentioned that he “spoke English more or less,” just a bit surprising for someone from Scotland. Mendes had no choice but to admit that he pretends to be a foreigner to have a head start with girls. Of course, he insisted that he did it only with special girls.

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Nicolas Bourcier

Brazil's Soccer Mom Turned Top Lawyer For Stars

Gislaine Nunes, 47, is the most prominent soccer attorney in Brazil. From Pelé to Ronaldinho, she has defended many stars, and her success has earned her as much fortune as hostility.

SAO PAULO — First, there is the voice: bubbly with mischief, so deep and convincing it’s easy to forget the surrounding agitation. Her cellphone, also, moving from one hand to the other. And the ashed-out jeans, so unusual for a courtroom professional.

At 47, Brazilian soccer attorney Gislaine Nunes is widely disliked among club leaders, because she succeeds in obtaining rulings against management for the players she represents. She is surprised to constantly have new cases. “If I’m here, it’s because of the incompetence of club managers,” she says. “It’s them, those idiots, those provincial and archaic leaders who created me.”

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Ramon Barbosa Franco

Meet The World Cup's Exoskeleton Miracle Athlete

Juliano Alves Pinto hadn't walked since a 2006 car accident. Then, just a few days ago, the world watched as he wore a mind-controlled exoskeleton to make the opening kick of the World Cup in Brazil.

SAO PAULO — Before standing in front of the entire world to make the first kick of the FIFA World Cup at last week's televised opening ceremony, 29-year-old Juliano Alves Pinto had not walked since Dec. 3, 2006.

That evening, the car in which he was riding home from a party overturned just a few kilometers away from its destination. Pinto lost his older brother and the use of his legs in the accident.

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Sepp Blatter's FIFA, Ugly Side Of The Beautiful Game

A Latin American call for the global soccer chief to step aside amidst ongoing corruption investigations. Yet even a Blatter-less FIFA would still have a long road to rectitude.

SANTIAGO — About three billion people, almost half the world's population, will be watching at least one match in the World Cup that began last week in Brazil. Soccer is by far the world's most popular sport, and a passion shared by people from Argentina to England, Israel to Afghanistan.

Some might even view the World Cup, quite reasonably, as globalization at its best.

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