Bem Vindo Ao Brasil

It seems only fair to entitle this bi-monthly update with the words "Welcome to Brazil" in Brazilian. After all the doom and gloom in the run-up to the World Cup – strikes, unfinished infrastructure etc – the event itself has gone on remarkably smoothly.

The consequences on this side of the world have been pretty devastating: all those midnight and 4 am kick-offs have slashed productivity in just about every corner of the economy. Who can function well after two hours sleep crammed in between two exciting matches – and that’s if the game didn’t go to extra time and penalties which all too many did. Even if you limit yourself to just the one match per night, the month-long tournament is steadily draining reserves of energy.

At least the football has pulled some attention away from the antics of our legislators, who have managed to scrutinize little legislation when sitting as a Legislature and few funding proposals when convened as Finance Committee. Apparently getting the people’s business done is less important than making declarations on points of principle. Mm, I wonder.

The World Cup has also demonstrated yet again my own feeble prowess as a sports commentator. I have just managed to forecast three of the four Quarterfinals wrongly (I thought Colombia looked too sharp for Brazil, French flare would be too much for the German machine, and the Belgian youngsters too creative for Argentina – all wrong). Even the result I did call correctly – Netherlands getting past surprise package Costa Rica – I did not imagine going to extra time and penalties.

The one consolation is that Dutch coach Louis Van Gaal apparently swung the tide by an unprecedented 119th minute goalkeeper substitution. This bold and decisive man is set to take over at Manchester United next season, so there is new hope in our hearts.