Anadolu Agency – additional reporting by Lucy Jordan in Brasília
RIO DE JANEIRO – Brazil’s 2014 World Cup campaign came to a bitterly disappointing end on Saturday as the Netherlands put three goals past the home team to win a playoff for third place – giving the hosts a second consecutive defeat and leaving them fourth overall in the competition.
Hopes had not been high as the historic five-time champions went head-to-head with a skilful Dutch side, which have never won a World Cup.
The 3-0 defeat to the Dutch at the Mané Garrincha stadium in the Brazilian capital, Brasília, was not on the scale of their worst-ever 7-1 semifinal loss against Germany, but after all the excitement of hosting the tournament for the first time in 64 years, Saturday’s result means that this is be a World Cup that Brazilians will want to consign to the history books.
Fans on both sides at the FIFA Fan Fest in Rio de Janeiro gave the Anadolu Agency their reactions to the game:
“It’s just such a shame. Two defeats in a row! It’s a joke. It wasn’t meant to be like this,” Thiago Lima, 21, a student from Rio, said. “Heads have to roll.”
The few Dutch supporters at the Fan Fest, fearing reprisals from the Brazilians, were instead turned instantly into celebrities, with Brazilians lining up to take pictures next to the fans draped in orange flags.
“We are extremely excited to have won third place, although it’s a shame that Brazil didn’t do better, as they’re the host country,” consultant Leanne Janssen, 49, from Gemert in the south of the Netherlands, told the AA.
And although some Brazilians left with their World Cup hopes in tatters, others turned Copacabana Beach into a huge party, dancing samba with other fans.
“We’re still really happy: we’re in Rio and we’re still historic champions, with five wins. We’re not going to let this get to us; we were privileged to be here,” 27-year-old São Paulo banker Edson Júnior said. “Yes, the team lost, but Brazil won: look at all these people here from all over the world partying together!”
Little enthusiasm for third place
Earlier on Saturday, hundreds of Brazilians – and foreign visitors borrowing their trademark yellows and greens – took to the streets of Rio de Janeiro in support of the beleaguered side, but were markedly less boisterous than in previous matches.
Anadolu Agency correspondent Lucy Jordan, in Brasília, said the third-place tie host city was also noticeably subdued and lacking in the honking horns and screaming fans dressed in every conceivable yellow-and-green accessory that had become a mainstay of previous matches.
Ahead of Saturday’s game, many Brazilians had voiced doubt over whether there was any point in watching the game.
“The defeat against Germany was simply an inexplicable thing. Third place is worth little to us,” a Brasília newsstand owner Lúcio Cláudio de Souza, 49, told the AA.
President Dilma Rousseff said in an interview with Brazil’s GloboNews television channel described the 7-1 defeat struck an “immense pain” to the heart of the nation, and said Brazil’s game was in need of an overhaul, with many lessons to be learned:
“We have to reform Brazilian football. We need to create grassroots football, and we need to guarantee that our managers have can in Brazil in similar conditions to how they live in Europe,” Rousseff said.
Brazilians now have to endure Sunday’s World Cup climax – a final set between arch rivals Argentina and semifinal humiliators Germany – from the sidelines.
Many will watch the two countries battle for the prize they so dearly wanted, and the majority is expected to be cheering for the Germans, with the country’s historic neighbourly rivalry with the Argentinians just too difficult to overcome.
Scolari’s future to be decided
Given Brazil’s performance, some even threatened to protest against the disgraced team, and its disgraced manager Luiz Felipe Scolari, known locally as “Felipão”, should there be another humiliating hailstorm of goals, as seen in the semifinal thrashing.
Cassio Trovo, 50, an agricultural engineer from Brasília, held a banner saying: “Felipão, you are fired. Signed, the Brazilian people.”
“I am against Felipão. But football is football, and we all go back to our lives Monday,” Trovo told the AA, adding that the defeat to Germany had left a deep wound that would take time to heal.
Brazilians might go back to their regular lives after this weekend’s World Cup finale, but the same may not be said of Scolari.
The President of the Brazilian Football Confederation, José Maria Marin, said no comment would be made until after Saturday’s third-place tie, and made no promises Scolari would be kept on.
“I am now worried about [Brazil’s] game. Afterwards, I’m going to resolve this,” the Folha de S.Paulo newspaper reported Marin as saying in response to a question about the manager’s future.
Some members of the Confederation, including the vice president, said they were in favor of keeping the manager in the role, who himself said the defeat was just “the end of a first cycle” in the role.
But there has been widespread condemnation from Brazilians and local media outlets have concluded that his position is likely to be untenable.