Forget the Maracanazo, this was a massacre
Brazil’s media struggles to find right words to express the country’s historic humiliation
Historic Humiliation. Historic Shame. Suffering. Perplexity. Massacre.
Inevitably Brazil’s press has been left looking for the right words to express the worst result in the country’s history after Germany demolished its national team and footballing self-esteem with its 7-1World Cup semi-final victory in Belo Horizonte last night.
“Brazilian football was reduced to dust,” wrote Juca Kfouri, the dean of the country’s football writers in Folha de S. Paulo. “The Brazilians entered the field with the knife between their teeth and the Germans with ice in their hearts. Coldly, almost sadistically, or better, sadistically, they went about making goals one after the other from the 11th to the 29th minute. When they stopped still in the first half it was 5-0. Simply unbelievable, something never seen in a World Cup semi-final, even more so against the home team.”
“My friend, forget the Maracanazo,” advised Antero Greco in Estado de S.Paulo. “For 64 years the 2-1 defeat to Uruguay in the final game of the 1950 World Cup was seen as the saddest episode in the history of the seleção…. The 7-1 thrashing by the Germans replaces the setback of 1950.”
After such a crushing defeat the inquest - or rather autopsy - promises to be brutal and there were accusing fingers being pointed at the emotional fragility of the squad, the loss of form of some key players and Felipão’s failure to drop them. The coach came in for some scathing attacks.
“Luiz Felipe Scolari is an obsolete coach,” wrote Mauro Cesar Pereira on ESPN Brasil’s site, his long-held opinion now sadly fully vindicated. “The greatest problem was never emotional but rather technical and tactical. This was only not evident to those who did not want to see or preferred to protect the coach. As if that was possible to do. A fragile team, without structure, without a pattern, with nothing!”
Felipão himself was not hiding from the blame, indeed trying to protect his players by seeking it all for himself. “The players want to share this defeat with me. But who selects the squad, picks the team and chooses a way of playing is me. Therefore, I am responsible. If I had to think about my life as a player and trainer this is the worst day of my life but life goes on. I’m going to be remembered for this 7-1 but I knew that was a risk I ran when I took on the job.”
Though he said his role now was to rally his players for Saturday’s third place play-off match in Brasília Felipão’s days as coach of Brazil are now almost at an end and he will have little role in what now follows but one of his players was honest about the need for root and branch reform on the game in Brazil.
Full back Daniel Alves, who witnessed the game from the bench, warned Brazil needed to “evolve”.
How likely such reform is when a member of the mafia of football bosses that have overseen the domestic game’s decline in recent decades has been elected as the new president of the CBF is hard to say.
But after the embarrassing exit from its own tournament the country had plenty of voices raised in anger at the commercial circus of corporations and marketing campaigns that now surrounds the seleção and who even commandeered the injury to Neymar to run ads promoting their client and his products under the guise of rallying the country behind the team in his absence.
“After the legendary shame, lets agree in the next World Cup no player or member of the coaching staff can do any type of ad during the tournament,” suggested Fabrício Carpinejar. “It will become a sort of spiritual concentration, a mediatic retreat, a clause of serenity. The players will defend just the seleção and not soft drink brands, shampoo, sports products and phone operators.”
Others were turning to the future as well. Sports paper Lance! was already speculating about Brazil’s new coaching set-up while Pelé was going on about football being “a box of surprises”. “Nobody in this world could have expected that result,” he responded when asked about the defeat. “We’ll look for a sixth title in Russia.”
But it all felt too soon, inappropriate. This is a country still in shock.