Brazil humiliated in World Cup game of shame

Staring at defeat: Brazil’s supporters were stunned by their team’s poor performance © PA

Germany obliterated the hosts 7-1 in a match that will be forever etched in the minds of Brazilians. With national elections looming, could the defeat cost the country’s president her job?

It was not supposed to end this way.

After spending $11bn on hosting the tournament, Brazil, the five-time champions, the kings of the ‘jogo bonito’, planned on claiming a sixth trophy on home soil. But it was not to be. In an astonishing semi-final, a formidable German team ran rampant over the host nation, crushing it 7-1 and leaving fans in tears. There’s a strong case for it being the greatest humiliation in football history.

Brazil has invested a great deal, literally and emotionally, in its World Cup, so the defeat will reverberate well beyond the football pitch. Half of all Brazilians opposed hosting the event, with many angry that funds spent on building expensive stadiums in tropical regions were not used on much-needed basic infrastructure such as roads, public transport and schools.

The Brazilian who could be most affected is the president, Dilma Rousseff. The country holds its elections this October and experts say the game could change the national mood; if citizens are unhappy, they are more likely to vote for change. Her decision to host the tournament may backfire spectacularly. In the 1950 World Cup, also in Brazil, in the newly-built Macaranã Stadium in front of 200,000 fans, Brazil lost to its smaller neighbour, Uruguay. The country was devastated and the impact lasted for decades.

Sport has affected politics before. When France hosted and won the World Cup in 1998, the success of its multiracial squad undermined support for the country’s right-wing National Front party. And after hosting the highly-successful Olympic Games in 2012 in which Team GB claimed the third-highest share of medals, three-quarters of Britons said they felt proud to be British.

Immediately after the Brazil match, riot police were put on standby. But there was no need – many Brazilians were gracious in defeat and more eager to congratulate Germany than tear up their country. And Brazil can still win third place, which would be a great achievement for any other team. Yet more than anything else, the tournament will be remembered as the one where Brazil was pummelled 7-1.

Humillación histórica

Some think that this defeat is a tragedy for Brazilians and one that will live with fans forever. However, they know that sport and politics are separate and will not punish their president for the team’s loss. Overall, the country should be proud for hosting the tournament successfully.

But others believe that even if Brazil wins third place in the competition, it will offer little consolation. National pride is bound up with the game, but Brazil was humiliated in front of its own fans in a tournament they had to pay for. It is a huge blow for Rousseff’s re-election hopes.

You Decide

  1. Does sport have an important effect on national mood?
  2. ‘The achievement of reaching a semi-final counts for nothing if a team then loses a game so embarrassingly.’ Do you agree?

Activities

  1. Split the class into two sides, with one side arguing that hosting a tournament like the World Cup should make a country proud and the other that losing so heavily at home is a huge embarrassment. Which side is more convincing?
  2. Using the internet, find five sporting defeats that have shocked the world. Make a report or design a webpage discussing the details.

Some People Say...

“It is stupid to get so emotional about a game.”

What do you think?

Q & A

Why should I worry about Brazil losing a football match?
The wider issue is how events can affect the national mood and the way people vote, and election results affect everyone in a country. The 2012 Olympics, for example, was credited with helping lead the UK away from recession because when people feel good they tend to spend more. When Spain won the World Cup in 2010, national pride made Catalonia put on hold its plans to seek independence.
How did Brazil lose so badly?
There will be lots of finger pointing in the next few days, but one of the most common reasons offered is that this team simply is not as good as previous squads like that of Ronaldo in 1998 or Pele from 1958 to 1970. Germany scored five goals in the first 30 minutes, during which time Brazil’s defence lost all composure.

Word Watch

Jogo bonito
The beautiful game. Brazil’s team in 1970 was considered one of the best ever with incredibly skilful players who were a joy to watch. Experts say that aside from Neymar, who was injured for this game, the current team lacks such quality.
Tropical
One stadium was built in Manaus on the edge of the Amazon. Games were played in sweltering 29ºC temperatures in gruelling 80% humidity.
France
Before the competition, the National Front argued that only players of white descent should be playing in the national team. Yet the onfield success of players of African and Middle Eastern origin turned the public away from that view.
Team GB
Great Britain won 65 medals in total, only behind China with 88 and the US with 104. Considering the UK’s population is a fifth of the US’s and less than a twentieth of China’s, it was an incredible achievement.
Third place
The two losers of the semi-final round will play a match for third place. Brazil has a chance of meeting its great neighbourly rival, Argentina. If the team were to lose in that game too, Brazilian football fans would be truly distraught.