Reuters Soccer Blog

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Just how important is the World Cup?

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SOCCER-WORLD/ No other sporting event has the same impact as the World Cup. Entire countries grind to a halt to watch games, no more so than Brazil where shopping and banking hours are completely altered throughout the tournament month and many just take an official month-long holiday. Politicians jump on the bandwagon, making a big thing of how much they are supporting the team, and launch government inquiries when their teams fail.

Entire reputations can be shattered as Juan Sebastian Veron discovered in 2002, when he was vilified for Argentina’s first-round exit, and Ronaldo experienced four years later when some saw as excess kilos around his waist became an affair of state and were blamed for Brazil’s quarter-final elimination.

Paraguay’s Oscar Cardozo was inconsolable after missing a penalty against Spain on Saturday and the floods of tears in the Brazil dressing-room team after quarter-final defeat by Netherlands said everything about how much defeat means to them.

Like many of his colleagues, Brazil coach Dunga had spent four years planning and preparing for South Africa. All that work was undone in 20 minutes when the Dutch scored twice and Brazil had Felipe Melo – who is almost certain to have his career permanently tarnished – sent off.

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