Scrap the third-place playoff
The party has ended prematurely. Your lifelong partner has gone off with a sworn enemy and the pair are later discovered kissing on a video that goes viral across the planet.
The humiliation is indescribable. Everyone at the party witnessed the betrayal and the endless, pitiless sobbing. You want to be left alone to pick up the pieces of your shattered heart.
But then, just as you prepare to turn out the lights on a night of abject misery, a gaggle of aunties, uncles, screaming relatives and random strangers all burst through the door, blowing steamers and waving balloons and demanding that you wipe away the tears, forget the immeasurable suffering and entertain them for a couple of hours with some old party tricks.
That's the moment when entertainment gives way to sadism. That's the third-place playoff match at the World Cup; unpopular, indulgent and spectacularly pointless.
The meaningless fixture between Brazil and Holland on Sunday morning (Singapore time) serves the suits supping champagne in the hospitality suites, allows Fifa to squeeze the last few drops of corporate revenue from sponsors and TV advertisers and adds nothing to what has otherwise been a glorious spectacle.
Louis van Gaal called on Fifa to scrap the third-place playoff match yesterday morning, arguing that players and managers do not wish to participate in it and most supporters do not particularly want to watch it.
He reasoned that battered bodies and muddled minds have no interest to play another 90 minutes so soon after enduring the most disappointing night of their professional careers.
For the Brazilians, their semi-final defeat was the worst night of their lives. They are now inextricably linked to a national disgrace forever; stuck to the Selecao stain like chewing gum to a shoe.
Sore losers can be tiresome and pampered multi-millionaires whining about their workload usually get the public derision they deserve, but this is different. Beyond charity matches, exhibitions and pre-season friendlies, a sporting spectacle loses its relevance if there is little or no competitive value.
Football is not interested in a place on the podium. Rio can wheel those out in two years' time for the Olympics. There are World Cup winners, runners-up and the rest.
Bronze medals are an acknowledgement of coming close in a race of many competitors - usually individual - and mostly at the same time. Knockout competitions like the World Cup are not events between rivals all eyeing each other in the starting blocks and separated only by the width of a breasted tape.
There are only winners and losers. And that's what the Dutch and Brazilians will consider themselves when they trot out sheepishly for the Brasilia procession. Any talk of "restoring pride" is the lazy cliche of the Fifa executive or the indifferent hack.
Holland have come agonisingly close in two consecutive tournaments and failed. The Brazilians are in a protracted state of national mourning. David Luiz has made more public apologies on TV than Bill Clinton after Monica Lewinsky. The thought of parading them around a pitch like contrite, weepy-eyed martyrs seems as cruel as it is unnecessary.
And the fact that playoff goals still count towards the Golden Boot further undermines both the fixture and the individual accolade. Exhausted defenders and indifferent midfielders are hardly a suitable yardstick to measure a striker's success.
If Arjen Robben knocks in a hat-trick against the traumatised Brazilians and Thomas Mueller fails to score in a match of genuine magnitude, does that really make the Dutchman's tournament any more golden?
History books will say it was. There is no asterisk beside the recipient's name indicating which goals were scored in a glorified friendly, as Salvatore Schillaci discovered when he knocked in his sixth and decisive goal against England in the playoff at Italia '90.
No one remembers the game, but Schillaci's Golden Boot hasn't been forgotten.
World Cup critics often point to Fifa's "Disneyfication" of the tournament, with its homogenised atmosphere, corporate control, sanitised branding and politically correct pledges.
But there is nothing more Mickey Mouse than the third-place playoff.