LAUSANNE, Switzerland (AP) — IOC President Thomas Bach found himself in an awkward situation, supporting his native Germany in the World Cup semifinal against Brazil, the country that will host the next Olympics.
Bach, an avid football fan since his youth in Germany, watched Tuesday night’s match on a big screen at a Lausanne hotel, sitting on a couch next to Carlos Nuzman, the Brazilian who heads the organizing committee for the 2016 Games in Rio de Janeiro.
Bach jumped to his feet and raised both arms in celebration after striker Miroslav Klose scored to put Germany up 2-0 after 23 minutes. But he was politely restrained and muted after that as the Germans piled on goal after goal. Germany led 5-0 at the half and extended the lead to 7-0 in the second before Oscar scored for Brazil in the 90th minute.
“It is not only a shock for the Brazilians, I think it is for everybody,” Bach said. “Such a result can only happen when you have these kind of circumstances. Brazil was missing its best player. Neymar cannot be replaced and the other team was playing an excellent match and scoring. If you saw Brazil in the first 10 minutes, they played very well offensively, then it all turned around.”
“I really have a lot of respect for the sports-loving fans and public and nation, and I keep my fingers crossed for them for the (third-place) match,” he added.
Bach, who embraced Nuzman after the match, praised the Brazilian fans who witnessed their team being demolished at the Mineirao stadium.
“Other stadia would have been empty at halftime after 0-5,” he said. “There you saw a full capacity stadium still supporting the team and acknowledging the effort. There are these kind of black days. It is a pity but things like this happen. But Germany was the better team and deserved to win.”
At the conclusion of the IOC executive board meetings in Lausanne, Bach will fly to Rio on Wednesday night and attend Sunday’s final at the Maracana. He is also expected to meet with Brazilian government officials and Olympic organizers to discuss Rio’s delay-plagued preparations for the 2016 Games.
A Brazil win in the World Cup would have been an ideal result for Olympic organizers, with the national euphoria carrying over to the Rio Games. The billions of dollars spent on both events have led to large protests.
But Bach said Brazil’s smooth running of the World Cup has already done its part to help the Olympics.
“I think that the world has seen the organizational skills of Brazil in this World Cup,” he said. “Many were surprised, but you could see how well this was organized, how well this went. This evening, in particular, all the world could see what a sports-loving nation Brazil is. I think both together (are) a very good message for the world and for the Olympic Games.”
Bach wouldn’t make a prediction for the final or say whether he would prefer Germany face Argentina or the Netherlands.
“Every match starts with 0-0, in particular the final match,” he said. “The team can be confident, but not complacent.”
One thing Bach is sure of: It won’t be another 7-1 result.
“In this kind of tournament, the semifinals are usually the better and more interesting matches,” he said. “In the final you will see a much more technical match.”