In North American sports, they are known as consolation games. The root word of consolation is console, which is defined as lessening someone's grief, sorrow or disappointment.
Not exactly a catchy way to promote a competition: Come watch two teams try to lessen their grief, sorrow or disappointment.
It is no mystery why third-place games in tournaments on this continent have become extinct on the elite level. Interest either waned or never much existed in the first place -- the only place for which most fans showed interest. The last NFL encounter, euphemistically called the Playoff Bowl, came in the 1969 season. The
Soccer officials with long memories can defend its continued existence on the 1994 attendance at the
For its model, FIFA has pointed to Olympic-style events in which the game determines the bronze medalist.
As another justification, the lords of the sport can argue how the matches usually become crowd-pleasers, with a minimum of four goals scored as the norm. With Wednesday's 0-0 slogfest between Argentina and the Netherlands still a fresh memory, that might be the most persuasive endorsement for this year's game.
As the host team that must mind its manners, Brazil has kept any disparagement about the concept to itself. The Dutch have not held back.
"I think this match should never be played," said Coach Louis van Gaal, who is surely eager to move on to his next gig with
Forward Arjen Robben alluded to the unsettling possibility of having a successful Cup run spoiled by closing with two defeats.
"Only one prize counts, and that is becoming world champion," he said. "A tournament where you've played so marvelously well, you could go home as a loser ... "