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Forbes: As Brazil Gently Weeps

Forbes: As Brazil Gently Weeps

Posted by Laura Zúñiga on July 19, 2014

Most of the people who visited Brazil for the World Cup have left — except for a handful of Argentines trying to make their way back home, and Aussies who get like four months of vacation — which leaves the largest country in South America alone to grieve for its national soccer team’s ghastly finish.

Brazil’s 7-1 loss to Germany isn’t like anything Americans can know. When Brazil lost to Uruguay in the final game of the 1950 World Cup (the last time Brazil hosted it), the ghost of that defeat was so powerful that it earned a name: Maracanacao, which means the shock of Maracana, the stadium in Rio where they lost. For 64 years that ghost haunted Brazil, and finally it has been replaced — perhaps by a far worse ghoul, the Mineiracao (the semifinal this year was at Mineirao Stadium).

There are probably thousands of ways to observe the Mineiracao in Brazil today, while it’s still fresh, but one of them that probably hurts particularly bad is on TV. Brazilian talk shows are part “The View” and part Ferris Bueller’s Day Off Parade, and they haven’t let up on the grief in the days since Brazil exited the tournament. On one morning show on Globo — the channel that broadcast most of the World Cup games in Brazil — the first segment of the day was a rehashing of Germany’s seven goals, narrated by a woman on a couch with a microphone. And that was two days ago — eight whole days after the game.

It’s true that some Brazilians feared their team reaching the final, because they didn’t want another shock at Maracana. (In fact, Brazil played seven games in the 2014 World Cup, none of them at Maracana in Rio.) But as one Brazilian who lives in Sao Paulo said to me, this loss was worse, and will take decades from which to recover. Losing by one or two goals is bad. Losing by six goals is a travesty. Losing by six when you’re a world-class favorite hosting the tournament is unlikely to ever happen again.

If the U.S. reached the semifinal of the World Cup we’d probably shower Tim Howard & co. with ticker tape in Times Square. For Brazil, instead they got an apology — a literal “sorry, everyone” — from their most emotional player. They got reamed on the front page of newspapers the way the New York Post treats A-Rod. One of them gave every player a 0 out of 10 rating. And their coach quit, after losing the third-place match to the Netherlands. Almost nobody wanted to watch that game, by the way — at the massive viewing at Copacabana Beach in Rio, more Argentines were chanting than Brazilians, and Argentina wasn’t even playing until the next day.

The only good news for Brazilians is that their normal soccer league has returned, almost as if they couldn’t wait to return to the field and score. Some of the games are being played in new World Cup stadiums — even if neither of the teams are from those cities (Brazil will find a way to justify spending billions of dollars somehow). As much as Brazilians love their Selecao, most true soccer fans probably love their clubs more than the national team. At the Corinthians match I attended last night, thousands of fans — unlike the rich, white Brazillionaires at the World Cup games — stood and jumped and yelled for all of 90 minutes.

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