Brazil's defeat a haunting humiliation

Last updated 13:40 09/07/2014
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A football fan shows his fury at Brazil after their embarrassing 7-1 loss to Germany.

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After waiting 64 years to exorcise the ghosts of the Maracanazo, Brazil have instead suffered another defeat that may haunt them for decades.

Many people had seen hosting the 2014 World Cup as a chance to wipe out memories of a defeat which is ingrained in Brazilian football folklore. Now they must come to terms with another result which nobody believed was remotely possible.

In 1950, Brazil, playing on home soil in Rio de Janeiro, needed only a draw against Uruguay in the tournament's decisive match to win the World Cup for the first time.

Throughout the final group stage, they had been hugely superior to their rivals, smashing a total of 13 goals past Spain and Switzerland to set the stage for what everyone believed was a certain win.

An estimated 200,000 crowd packed the newly-built Maracana stadium, built as a symbol of ''the land of the future'', for the decisive match against tiny neighbours Uruguay expecting that title to be a formality.

But, even though Brazil scored first, Uruguay came from behind for a 2-1 win, known as the Maracanazo, which left South America's biggest country stunned and with its esteem shattered.

Brazilians had accepted that defeat was possible today, but nobody for one moment imagined that they would capitulate as if they were playing a ''pelada'', as informal kickabouts are known in Brazil.

Like the Maracanazo, the 7-1 defeat in Belo Horizonte's Mineirao stadium is likely to leave scars for years to come.

Brazil coach Luiz Felipe Scolari, a hero when he led them to a fifth world title in 2002, will now find his name forever associated with Brazil's heaviest defeat for 94 years.

The same may go for technical director Carlos Alberto Parreira, who led Brazil to their fourth world title in 1994.

It remains to be seen whether the players will be stigmatised in the same way as their hapless predecessors from 1950.

Moacir Barbosa, the goalkeeper in the 1950 team, said shortly before his death in 2000 that he had never been forgiven for the fateful day in 1950.

''Under Brazilian law the maximum (prison) sentence is 30 years. But my imprisonment has been for 50 years,'' he said.

One of his most bitter moments was when he attempted to visit the Brazil training camp in Teresopolis in 1993 and was barred by the coaching staff because it was thought he might bring bad luck.

Another sad moment of his life was at a market around 20 years after the match, when a woman pointed at him said told her son: ''Look at him, son. He is the man that made all of Brazil cry.''

Zizinho, arguably the best player on the team, wrote that he was always associated with the Maracanazo.

''I played for 19 years. I won some titles and along with the other players of that campaign I'm remembered as a loser,'' he said in his autobiography.

Brazil's sports ministor Aldo Rebelo gave an insight into the Brazilian psyche when he spoke to foreign journalists two years ago.

''We cannot repeat the national tragedy of 1950 when we lost to Uruguay,'' he said.

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''It was like losing to your younger brother. Losing to Argentina, well that would be like losing to your brother-in-law and that is something that you also can never accept in the family.''

''Losing to Uruguay in 1950 not only impacted on Brazilian soccer. It impacted on the country's self-esteem.

''Brazilians felt defeated as a country and only felt redeemed when we won the 1958 World Cup and we abandoned what the writer Nelson Rodrigues called 'the stray dog complex' so winning the World Cup is very important to us.''

Scolari himself added to the sense of expectation by saying when he took over that Brazil had ''an obligation'' to win the World Cup on home soil.

''If you don't like pressure, it's better to go and work in the Bank of Brazil, or outside on the corner or sit in an office and do nothing,'' he said.

Brazil's astonishing capitulation after conceding a soft early goal on today suggested that the burden of 64 years' history was too much for them to bear.  

- Reuters

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