Brazil Loses to the Netherlands, Is Out of the World Cup
– Hey, mister, I know what you’re thinking: It’s all your fault!
That’s how late Brazilian sports columnist Armando Nogueira started his nightly broadcast one night in July of 1982. Italy had just beaten Brazil, 3X2, and shaken that World Cup in Spain to its foundations.
It was the same discredited Italian team which had scraped by with three miserable ties in the first round. The scorer of those three goals against Brazil was the same Paolo Rossi, later nicknamed “Bambino d’Oro,” who’d spent a year suspension for involvement in a game-fixing scheme and was returning to the national team.
The same Italy which went on to win it all, its fourth tournament overal. But so it’s the nature of this beast known around the world as football. You may be the favorite but all bets are off once you step on the field. In the end, it’s just like any other sports except golf: whoever has the most goals, wins.
The Dutch came from behind today in Port Elizabeth, and Brazil simply had no response to it.
– You may be wondering, why you didn’t watch the game sitting on your favorite chair? Nogueira went on. How come you were not wearing your lucky Jersey this time? Why you neighbor had to show up, unannounced, and jinx your whole game?
Brazil, the team that was playing “a football of another galaxy”, according to the sports press of the time, needed only a tie against Italy. And lost it all in the closing minutes of the match. The same Brazil of Zico, Sócrates, Toninho Cerezzo and Falcão. The team that was supposed to win it all.
Talking about the press. There can be no doubt that today, exactly when Wesley was scoring his second goal and burying Brazil for good, some sports commentator was praising the virtues of the five-time world champions. There’s always something to talk about and, if lacking it, there’s always the sure-bet retelling of their achievements.
So, what’s the big deal? In Brazil, it is a big deal. No one knows why but no one else takes the World Cup so seriously. And that means, win it all or don’t even come back home, that’s how big the deal is. Second place? Don’t even think about glorifying it. You may as well come in the last place; it’ll all be the same shameful deal.
– Well, I have news for you, Nogueira concluded. It wasn’t meant to be! We lost, they won, end of the story.
It’s hard to imagine how brutal that sounded to Brazilians that night. It was true, of course, and in the end, everybody did move on.
They will do it again. For Brazilians, it may not be just a game before it starts. It’s certainly not just a game if they win, what with the whole population counting the team’s victories as personal achievements and all.
But once it’s over and Brazil loses it, it’s back at being what it is, just a game. One you play to win but will likely lose several times before that happens.
For those whose role now it to console some Brazilian they chose to share this lifetime together, a word of advice. Never, ever say, it’s OK, it’s time to let someone else win now. For there won’t be coming back from that position of perceived absolute betrayal such a well-intentioned companion will fall into.
And never, ever, wear that same Jersey again.
* Originally published on July 2, 2010.