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Uruguay’s manic Maracana coronation

Uruguay’s manic Maracana coronation

Posted by PanamericanWorld on April 28, 2016

The smiles, or lack thereof, tell the story. This was a FIFA World Cup Trophy presentation like no other. Its strange, chaotic nature, though, fitted perfectly the 1950 Final that had preceded it, a match that has gained both fame and infamy in the decades since as 'the Maracanazo'. 

Jules Rimet, FIFA’s longest-serving president, is the bespectacled figure handing over the Trophy - renamed in his honour four years earlier - to Uruguay’s captain, Obdulio Varela. Yet so certain had a Brazil triumph appeared pre-match, and for most of the Final itself, that Rimet later admitted to having prepared just one speech: congratulating A Seleção

Indeed, in his book ‘The Wonderful Story of the World Cup’, Rimet revealed that he had not even witnessed La Celeste pulling off the seemingly impossible. “Just a few minutes from the end, with the score still at 1-1 [Brazil needing just a draw to become champions], I left my seat in the president’s box and, with the microphones at the ready, went down to the dressing rooms, the deafening shouts of the crowd ringing in my ears. 

“I walked towards the pitch and at the end of the tunnel that jubilation had given way to a desolate silence. There was no guard of honour, no national anthem and no ceremony. There I was alone, in the middle of the crowd, being pushed here, there and everywhere, with the Trophy under my arm. I eventually found the Uruguayan captain and, virtually out of sight of everyone, I handed him the Cup.” 

Even among the victors, the mood was some way short of celebratory. “I was crying more than the Brazilians,” recalled Juan Schiaffino, scorer of Uruguay’s equaliser in a stunning 2-1 win. “It made me very sad to see them suffering like that. We all felt very emotional.” 

The Maracanazo had been an overwhelming occasion for all involved, and remains one of the most renowned and significant chapters in World Cup history. 

Did you know?

The Jules Rimet Trophy was stolen in Brazil in 1983 and never recovered, but its original base was miraculously located just three years ago. It was found tucked away unnoticed on a shelf in the FIFA archive six decades after being lost, and is now proudly displayed at the FIFA World Football Museum in Zurich.

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