The U.S. World Cup Dream Is Over, So It's Time To Root For Brazil
Just because the U.S. bid is over doesn't mean there's nothing left to watch in the 2014 World Cup. But if you're looking for a team to cheer, we suggest rooting for Brazil to win. Why? It's not just because they're the hosts, although that's part of it; a Yale economist's look at the numbers suggests that at this point in the tournament, a Brazil win will make the most people happy. That's as good a reason as any to root for the team.
Writing in The New York Times' Upshot, Yale's Dean Karlan lets readers in on a quick "aggregate happiness" measure he devised. Based on countries' "population, poverty level and interest in soccer," the index takes a look at whose victory will mean the most. Nigeria was tops, but they were ousted by France 2-0 on Monday. Next on the list? Brazil, which by the way is the country that shelled out roughly $11 billion to prep for the Cup. And they didn't exactly have that kind of money to spend, spawning protests that characterized the lead-up to the Cup, though they've since died down.
So, knowing that it'll make more people happier — Brazil is a nation of 200 million — why else should you root for the country? Well, the answer can be summed up in just one word: Neymar.
Man, can this goofy-haired guy play. Neymar da Silva Santos Júnior — Neymar for short — is 22 and may emerge as the Cup's top scorer when all's said and done. He's also Brazil's star by a mile. He was injured in a narrow with over rival Chile, which Brazil escaped in a tense shoot-out, but he's looking fit to play in the quarter-finals.
Brazil's playing in the quarter-finals against Colombia on July 4, so if you're not too busy celebrating America, it should be a good game — maybe even the best game of the World Cup, according to USA Today's For The Win. Brazil's been a little disappointing so far, and this is their chance for redemption.
But if great soccer alone isn't enough to sway you, there's always that happiness index.