Brazil 3-1 Croatia: Brazil no longer neutrals’ favourites

Goodwill evaporates, reveals Back of the Net's John Foster...

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The goodwill of the watching world evaporated on Thursday night as Brazil beat Croatia 3-1 thanks to several highly contentious refereeing decisions.

The decision to host the tournament in Brazil was a popular one, and millions of supporters have been looking forward to watching the Selecão advance through the tournament on home soil.

Brazil were seen as the embodiment of the unifying spirit of football, and people the world over had expressed their hope that the hosts’ successes on the pitch might help the country overcome its recent political tensions.

But thanks to the behaviour of Neymar, Fred and referee Yuichi Nishimura, most neutrals are now hoping for Brazil to succumb to an early exit and a possible collapse into anarchy.

“I’m supporting England, of course, but I was hoping that Brazil would go a long way, for their fans’ sake,” said 33-year old football fan Amanda Stowe.

“But having watched that reprehensible dive by Fred, I’d now like to see Cameroon put seven past them while striking transport workers set fire to the parliament building. Croatia till I die.”

Fred’s comical flop after being heavily breathed on was preceded by Nishimura’s decision not to send off Neymar for clouting Luka Modric in the throat.

With the score at 2-1, the Japanese official disallowed a Croatia equaliser for a violent sneeze by Ivica Olic, before overlooking Ramires’ foul on Modric in the build-up to Brazil’s third.

“If that’s going to be the standard of refereeing in this tournament, we may as well go home now,” said Croatia coach Joseph Gordon-Levitt, as he led his side onto a Boeing 747 bound for Split.

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