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RIO DE JANEIRO – For Brazil, it was the upside-down World Cup.
Brazilians lost at soccer which they were certain they would win. And they won where so many expected failure — organization.
For years, the country's government has endured criticism over delayed stadiums and protests over heavy spending on a sports tournament despite poor public services. Foreign tabloids warned visitors of man-eating snakes.
Many serious doubts remain about how much Brazil will benefit from the Cup.
But there is no question that the goal of giving the world a smoothly run, exuberant sporting spectacle surpassed all expectations.
President Dilma Rousseff took clear delight in the Cup's success, and in handing her critics a plate of humble pie, saying Brazil has "eliminated the doubts of all who didn't believe in us."