SÃO PAULO – Brazil reacted with a mixture of disappointment, disgust and shame on Tuesday night after suffering their worst-ever defeat in the nation’s long World Cup history at the hands of Germany, who thrashed the hosts 7-1 in the semifinal clash.
It had all been going so well. After many months of criticism over World Cup preparations had subsided and the stadiums were ready, tourists were enjoying their adventures around Brazil.
In terms of football, many were calling 2014 the best-ever edition of the tournament. There was certainly no shortage of drama or goals.
But Brazil’s hopes of an easy ride to the finals were dashed after Brazil’s golden boy and star striker, Neymar, was ruled out of the rest of the World Cup after suffering a fractured vertebra in the quarterfinal clash.
The mood in the country changed, and Brazilians went into the semifinals suddenly with their nerves in tatters.
“It’s so sad and disappointing that Brazil is out of the World Cup final. They were warriors, but our best player was already out of the World Cup, so there wasn’t much we could do,” 53-year-old Zilga Lima dos Reis, a salesperson from Montas Claras, told The Anadolu Agency.
At one point in the semifinal tie, Germany hit the back of the net four times in a six-minute hailstorm of goals, marking the moment that Brazilians knew it was all over.
Some spectators even began to file out of Belo Horizonte’s Mineirao stadium, as millions of viewers switched off their television sets unwilling to watch the second half.
The five-time World Cup winners had been humiliated – and worse of all at home, in front of hundreds of millions of viewers around the world. The hashtag #vergonhabrasil – “shame on you, Brazil” – was soon trending on Twitter in Brazil.
Scolari and Neymar exit blamed
Many on social media blamed a mixture of Neymar’s early exit from the competition, and a rash of poor decisions from manager Luiz Felipe Scolari.
Local television showed fans across the nation dismayed at the team’s semifinal defeat: fans with tear-soaked painted faces consoling each other as a sense of bewilderment as to how it could have happened drifted over the nation.
Brazilians out on São Paulo’s main Avenida Paulista street, eerily devoid of the throngs of football fans, blaring horns and fireworks typically seen following Brazil World Cup fixtures, spoke to the Anadolu Agency about the defeat.
Many laid the blame squarely at Scolari’s feet, as well as citing a lack of focus from the team due to Neymar’s absence:
“The team was unbalanced without Neymar; they weren’t confident when they headed onto the pitch. They took a second goal and that really messed them up. It was over. Seven-one? It’s a national disgrace,” said hospital technician Adriano da Silva, 38.
For 30-year-old São Paulo lecturer Danilo Roman Campos, the embarrassing defeat was down to a lack of dialogue: “The team didn’t understand the manager, and the manager didn’t understand the team.”
“Unfortunately, people were already in mourning and I think it had a big impact,” said São Paulo salesperson Vinicius Brito Neves, 23. “The team lost hope and we suffered an early death, as from the moment they sang the anthem with his shirt there, they weren’t 100 percent focused on the game.”
“I don’t think Scolari respected the German side. Brazil was always on the counterattack and we ended up taking seven goals,” Neves added.
However, despite the loss, many thought the World Cup had been worth it, if only to show that the country was capable of hosting such an event and welcoming foreign visitors, particularly ahead of the Summer Olympics in 2016.
But others were not so sure:
“In the end I was cheering on Germany to win. Brazil didn’t need the World Cup; it needs a lot of other things. It wasn’t worth all the money,” said 21-year-old student Yumi Fukui, from São Paulo.
Despite all the glum faces and words of disgust and dismay, President Dilma Rousseff — whose prospects for this October’s general elections had ticked upwards after a successful start to the World Cup campaigns following a series of slips in the polls — took to Twitter shortly after the game ended in an attempt to rouse the nation out of its World Cup nightmare:
“Like all Brazilians, I am very, very sad about this defeat. I’m immensely sorry for all of us fans and for our players,” Rousseff said in a sequence of tweets.
“But we are not going to let it get to us. Brazil, get up, brush off the dust and get back on your feet.”
However, the rallying-call from the president came in stark contrast to interviews being broadcast on Brazil’s television, including a tearful apology from Brazil player and fill-in captain David Luiz:
“It’s a very sad day but it’s also a day from which to learn. Apologies to all Brazilian people. I just wanted to see my people smile,” Luiz said after the match.
Scolari said he took responsibility, adding he would be “remembered as the coach to lose 7-1,” a result which he described as “catastrophic.”
“My message to the Brazilian people is: ‘please excuse us for this performance’.”