One after another, in quick succession, Germany kept pouring in goals against helpless Fiji in its Olympic football match in Belo Horizonte.
The final score of 10-0 was the most lopsided of Fiji’s three losses in the Rio Games, where the small Pacific nation was also beaten 8-0 by South Korea and 5-1 by Mexico.
Why did everyone pick on Fiji? In the Olympic spirit, was this fair play?
Blame goal differential (subtract goals scored from goals allowed), the tiebreaker method in group stage play in football tournaments.
A single goal can make the difference between advancing and going home.
With a zero goal differential in its first two games, Germany started the final day of Group C play in third place behind leader South Korea and Mexico. Those two teams faced off in Brasilia. Mexico had a four-goal cushion, thanks to its 5-1 win over Fiji.
With the two games being played simultaneously, Germany had to outscore Fiji by at least five goals to have a shot at securing second place and a quarterfinal berth in case of a Mexican draw.
After scoring five goals in 40 minutes, Germany continued the relentless attack looking to boost its chances of winning the group by goal differential in case of a tie by South Korea, which at the time had an eight goal cushion. Germany finished with a 10 goal differential, but it wouldn’t matter: The Koreans won 1-0, finished as group leaders and eliminated Mexico.