El World Cup Diario, Day 27: Game over for Brazil
Typically, and entirely predictably, Day 27 of the World Cup was spent watching, waiting, scratching around for anything that might pass as 'news' and then waiting some more.
There was a big game of football on last night, you see. You might even have watched it. Brazil against Germany in the semi-finals of the World Cup, in Brazil, in front of 200 million desperate Brazilians.
So it was to be expected that proper news would be a little thin on the ground as the world waited for the big game. The best bits you might have missed can be summarised as follows...
Operation Jules Rimet
There was a story about Brazilian police arresting the British chief executive of a FIFA partner company as part of an investigation into illegal World Cup ticket sales.
It seemed a Mr Ray Whelan of Match Hospitality was pinched while staying in the vulgar opulence of one of Rio's grandest hotels, El Travel Lodge, no, sorry, the Copacabana Palace. Other arrests have taken place as part of Operation Jules Rimet, amid accusations that a gang illegally resold tickets, some originally allocated to players, raking in as much as £52 million per tournament, possibly over as many as four World Cups.
The big shock here is not that a man in a position of power might have abused that power for a few bars of gold, but that Brazilian police called their top secret sting 'Operation Jules Rimet'. Aren't secretive investigations supposed to have obtuse names so as to avoid arousing suspicion? Wouldn't they have been better off calling it Operation Trousers? Or Operation Eggplant? Or just Operation Anything Other Than Jules Rimet?
There were also loads more stories about Brazil's football team, but little that we didn't already know.
One story confirmed that against Colombia, Brazil committed the most fouls by any team in this World Cup (31), which somewhat undermined Brazil crying foul when Colombia dared foul them back. And there was yet another story about Brazil's team psychologist, who apparently helped the players cope with "the loss of Neymar" by reminding them that it's only a f*cking game and that nobody had actually died.
There was big news regarding the biggest star of this World Cup.
The magic can of vanishing foam will make its European debut in next season's Champions League, they announced. Which is nice.
Clean as a whistle
Then came news from FIFA, announcing that absolutely no players have failed drug tests at this World Cup.
They tested more than 1,000 and each one of them came back negative, which means everyone is clean or they're just really good at hiding it. Of course they're not, that's just a cheap pay off to a joke going nowhere. Let's gloss over that by turning this into a quiz: Name the last player caught doping at a World Cup...
Small chap, about so high, mad boggly eyes and a rabid snout.
No prizes for guessing this one, reader. Literally. There are no prizes.
Then some PROPER NEWS trickled in ahead of tonight's second semi-final.
We witnessed some remarkable footage of both Argentina and Holland running around their respective training grounds for a bit, sometimes with a ball, sometimes without, sometimes in straight lines and sometimes doing zig-zags. After which, Sergio Aguero was pronounced fit to play, but Robin van Persie is a doubt with a bad case of the trots, or a stomach bug or some-such.
It was also confirmed that a special coin commemorating Van Persie's stunning header against Spain sold out in Holland within hours of going on sale, despite them minting 6,000 of the buggers. And we might have lingered longer on that momentous news only...
...some God-fearing Russian priest then declared coloured football boots to be a "homosexual abomination".
"Wearing pink or blue shoes, [the Russian squad] might as well wear women’s knickers or a bra," raged Mark Lawre... no, ahem, Alexander Shumsky. "The liberal ideology of globalism clearly wants to oppose Christianity with football. Therefore I am glad that the Russian players have failed and, by the grace of God, no longer participate in this homosexual abomination."
Obviously we shouldn't indulge the old bigot, but it really was a quiet old news day and we were just killing time, waiting for the only thing of any note that happened yesterday. The Game. The BIG Game. THE BIG GAME!
And then finally THE BIG GAME arrived, and Brazil went out; narrowly beaten in an eight-goal thriller.
That wasn't supposed to happen, or at least not quite like that. Pity the poor players, but pity that poor psychologist who'll be working round the clock for the next few days, weeks, months and quite probably years.