As the World Cup advances to Sunday’s final match at Maracana Stadium in Rio de Janeiro, Americans and people all around the world have been watching Brazil closely.
Brazilians have seen their chances of competing in that final match go, after Tuesday’s embarrassing 7-1 loss in the semifinals to Germany. It was an utterly shocking moment for Brazil fans, as their overabundant fandom and excitement for soccer quickly turned to sorrow and disbelief as Germany scored five goals in the first 29 minutes of the match. Three of those goals were made within five minutes, which is an extreme rarity in professional soccer.
Rio de Janeiro’s month-long jubilant mood was noticeably gone the morning after that loss. The defeat hung over the city like a black cloud. Normally, Rio’s subways are a social place for people, but Wednesday’s commuters were introverted and quiet. People walking on the streets, in grocery stores, and banks carried a pained demeanor.
It was Brazil’s worst defeat since 1934, and it broke a 62-match home-win streak unbeaten in competitive matches that stretched back to 1975. Brazil still must play one more match: the third place game against the Netherlands this Saturday in Brazilia.
Germany will now advance to its eighth World Cup final, playing against Argentina.
Argentina borders Brazil, and that has bred a long-standing competitive rivalry between these two South American countries. Juliana Schincariol, a Rio local, confessed jokily with a deadpan expression that she will stay home for two weeks if Argentina wins. “It will be a nightmare,” she explained. “There are many Argentineans here who are already jumping, singing, and chanting against Brazilians. It will be a huge humiliation if Argentina wins. I don’t want to see it.”
The collective feeling on the streets of Rio is that a World Cup victory for Argentina would be salt in Brazil’s open wound.
Success Despite Doubt
Despite some bad press preceding the World Cup, in regard to delayed infrastructure, riots, and safety, Brazil has been successful in delivering the 2014 FIFA World Cup.
“This month has brought feelings of happiness and displayed human challenge and rivaling countries together in celebration,” said Jared Brusa, an American social studies teacher, from Prunedale, California, who has been coming to Brazil regularly for 12 years. He’s witnessed the progress the country has made over the past decade and month, and feels that the legacy of the World Cup experience will be positive.
Before this World Cup, some knew very little about Brazil, especially in the United States, according to Brusa. One of his friends from the U.S. asked how big Brazil was compared to an American state. Surely, many Americans now know the answer to this and have Brazil in their minds as a great and respectable country.
Post World Cup
Alexandre Jorge, a journalist for O Globo, one of Brazil’s top newspapers, thinks Brazilians “are going to miss the World Cup, especially because the social and political environment softened. The politicians had a month off because everyone’s focus was on futebol.”
Brazilians will quickly regain their sights on the political issues because Brazil is holding its presidential election this year. Some speculated that a World Cup victory for Brazil would have ensured the current political party a successful reelection. Now that they have experienced a humiliating loss on their own turf, it’s safe to predict that heads will roll, politically speaking, and the chances of President Dilma Rousseff getting reelected seem slim.
What will become of Brazil and its citizens after these soccer games come to an end and the millions of tourists pack up their flags, wash off their face paint, and fly home? We will know after November’s elections are completed.
Josh Ellis is a Santa Barbara native who moved to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, a few months ago. Read more of his World Cup reports below.