World Cup is an accomplishment for Brazil, despite losses and costs
JUDY WOODRUFF: It had to end sometime, and yesterday’s final game of the 2014 World Cup in Brazil provided a thrilling conclusion to what, by all accounts, has been a memorable contest.
Meanwhile, Brazil is beginning to come to terms with its team’s devastating losses and the high costs of hosting the Cup. In the U.S., record high TV audiences may signal a new level of interest in the beautiful game.
For these and other takeaways, we’re joined by Tommy Smyth of ESPN, who called the games on radio and Matt Futterman of The Wall Street Journal. He’s still in Brazil.
And we welcome you both to the NewsHour.
So let’s talk first about Germany’s win yesterday.
Matt Futterman, how big an accomplishment for them?
MATTHEW FUTTERMAN, The Wall Street Journal: This is a huge accomplishment for them. It’s something they have been working on for about a decade, now, since Joachim Loew, the current coach, and the former coach, Jurgen Klinsmann, really decided to remake Germany from a very sort of tactical, sort of laboring, defensive-minded team, into this attacking machine that is just absolutely relentless, has some of the greatest athletes in the world playing for it.
And they have been close in the last few big tournaments, and they finally got where they wanted to be last night.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Tommy Smyth, what do you think put Germany on to the top, over the top, and did the other teams even come close?
TOMMY SMYTH, ESPN: No, the other teams didn’t come close.
If you at Brazil, they got the lard knocked out of them by Germany 7-1, and they were the host nation. They were the team that everybody said, let’s just give them the Cup. We won’t even have to play for it because they were the big favorites.
But I think the big change for Germany was when they went back to the conventional play, and Philipp Lahm on one side. Then the German team started to go. And they just kept coming at you and at you and at you.
And, keep in mind, the man who scored the winning goal is only 22 years of age. And to win the World Cup in South America, no European nation has ever done it. And in doing so, they beat Brazil and they beat Argentina, two South American powers. It couldn’t be any better for the Germans.
JUDY WOODRUFF: So, Matt Futterman, you agree; none of the other teams even came close it was all said and done?
MATTHEW FUTTERMAN: Well, I mean, Argentina came pretty close last night. A goal in the 113th minute of extra time, that’s the way these World Cup finals have been going the last eight years, into extra time. That’s pretty close.
At the end of the day, though, if you look at the — you look at the resume of the seven games that Germany played, it was a pretty impressive show they put on. And, obviously, we are going to be talking about it for 50 years, that 7-1 blowout of Brazil on Brazil’s home soil.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Tommy Smyth, what are these games going to be remembered for overall? How good have they been?
TOMMY SMYTH: Well, I would say, in my opinion, this has been the best World Cup that I have ever seen. And, mind you, I have seen a few of them. I have been around for a while for these World Cups.
It had controversy, it had great games, it had great players, it had surprise results. The U.S. got a great run in it. All of us, for 100 years, we will talk about the 7-1 shellacking of Brazil by Germany.
And then the fact they have always said that football is a game where you run around after the ball for 90 minutes, and when it’s over, the Germans have won. In this case, they ran for 120 minutes, but when it was over, the Germans had won again anyhow.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Matt Futterman, what are you going to — what’s your main takeaway from this amazing World Cup?
MATTHEW FUTTERMAN: Well, I think it’s pretty — I think Brazil really proved something to the world in terms of being able to pull this thing off.
I mean, really, up until the last minute, there were these questions about to whether this event was going to be able to happen, whether the stadiums were going to be finished, whether the infrastructure was going to be finished. And I think Brazil surprised a lot of people.
And that is a huge, huge accomplishment for a country that’s going to be hosting the Olympics in two years. There were a lot of questions about that in May. I would say there are a lot fewer questions about whether that Olympics is going to be able to come off now that we’re into July.
JUDY WOODRUFF: From your perspective, Tommy Smyth, how does Brazil come out of this? Clearly, a huge disappointment for them with their loss, but in terms of pulling off the game themselves, does that in some way make up for the loss?
TOMMY SMYTH: Well, in some way, it makes up for the loss, but, you know, the people weren’t feeling very good about this World Cup because of the money it was costing.
And the people are feeling even worse now because, A, the money it cost and, B, how badly their team played, because football, soccer, call it what you want, is everything in Brazil. And they wanted a good result. They didn’t even get a good result in the third-place game.
So I would say that Brazil are feeling pretty bad about it, but to the rest of the world, they can hold their heads high. They did a fantastic job of hosting the World Cup.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Matt Futterman, as we said, you’re still there. What are the Brazilian people saying? I mean, we know there have been — there’s been a whole lot of conversation since the games, during and since the games ended.
MATTHEW FUTTERMAN: Well, the first thing they’re saying is, thank God Argentina didn’t win, because that’s their big rival, and that would have been the ultimate nightmare, if Argentina had won on Brazilian soil.
MATTHEW FUTTERMAN: They are saying they’re upset. They’re disappointed.
I think this big loss to Germany is going to spark a real conversation about what Brazil needs to do to sort of regain that prominence and that confidence in world soccer that it had really for the last 100 years. Nothing happens by accident in sports anymore. Brazil really needs to make an effort to cultivate and develop the talent that it has.
It’s a huge country. People play soccer all the time here, but countries like the Netherlands and Germany are putting a tremendous amount of money into developing their players. That’s really the road that Brazil is going to have to go down. They are going to have to build up their domestic league and they’re going to have to create an environment where they can have these players that are so great and actually bring them together so they’re terrific at 22 as they are at 14.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Tommy Smyth, let’s talk about the United States.
What does the U.S. take away from this? How much — is soccer now more popular in the U.S. than it was before this World Cup?
TOMMY SMYTH: Oh, no question about it.
Everybody’s talking soccer. Everybody’s watching soccer. The viewing numbers have been astronomical for ESPN, even radio and on the Internet. It’s been everywhere. So I think that soccer has come to a different level in the United States now. Now the team has to push itself forward and it has to get itself to the next level.
It got out of a very difficult group this time, but got to the stage where — this round of 16, which was what happened last time, and was knocked out on a goal on extra time, which is what happened last time. So the next time, they have to shoot for at least a quarterfinal berth, or the people in the United States are going to start saying, well, we have interest, but it’s not that big an interest, because you have to be a winner in the U.S.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Tommy Smyth, you watch this sport so closely.
What does it take though to sustain soccer up and down the line, I mean, in terms of young people playing the sport, all the way up to the team that makes it to the World Cup?
TOMMY SMYTH: Yes, you have got to start at a very early age.
You have got to have the academies at a very early age. You have got to get them in there at 12 and 14 years of age. You have got to develop them through high school. You have got to develop them through college. MLS has to step up to another rank. It has to start developing the players.
And I think they have to do a better job at scouting. There are players in this country that are not being seen, but I think they have to scout them and they have got to get them at a young age and get them into a system and have them playing against good players.
It’s fine to go to college. When the United States team gets to the final of the World Cup, it’s always the best educated team at the World Cup, not necessarily the best football team. So, I think somewhere along the way, they are going to have to make the decision. OK, I’m going to play soccer or I’m going to be educated.
There’s nothing wrong with an education, but these guys who are playing soccer in other countries are playing against the best players in the academies, and that’s where they develop their game and that’s how they become so good.
JUDY WOODRUFF: So, finally, Matt Futterman, what would you add to that? What is the U.S. takeaway from this World Cup? How is the legacy of this World Cup seen in this country — in our country?
MATTHEW FUTTERMAN: Well, what usually happens after a World Cup is soccer kind of disappears for the next four years.
I don’t think that’s going to happen these next four years, because you have a unique period coming up here. This is probably going to be the most active sort of interim between World Cups that the U.S. soccer audience has ever seen.
Next summer, you have the women’s World Cup in Canada that’s right next door. The U.S. women are the best team in the world. They are going to capture everybody’s hearts once again. They always do it.
2016, the Copa America is going to be hosted in the U.S. It’s going to be the best South American teams playing against the U.S. on U.S. soil. 2017, you got World Cup qualification and then 2018 you’re going to be in Russia again for the World Cup.
These next four years are going to go very quickly. And for people who got caught on this sport in the last month, there is going to be a lot for them to pay attention to.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Well, it’s been a great World Cup to watch.
Matt Futterman, Tommy Smyth, we thank you you both.
TOMMY SMYTH: Thank you very much, Judy.
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