Brazil vs Netherlands World Cup 2014: Arrogant Brazilian team may never be forgiven by the fans

The ghosts of 1950 have been exercised... but replaced by this current team

Rio de Janeiro

They started out with the hope of exorcising the ghosts of the Maracanazo but in the end they never even got to set foot on the stadium’s soil.

LIVE: Brazil vs Netherlands World Cup third-place play-off latest

But as Brazil hobble towards a pointless third-and-fourth-place game in their capital tonight, it’s not even the barbed memories of Tuesday’s 7-1 semi-final pummelling by Germany that scraped and carved at the national consciousness that are hurting most. Instead, there’s a countrywide feeling that people have been abandoned and humiliated by their team’s remarkable antics.

Anecdotal but representative of the mood of the place, a taxi driver says he hopes Brazil are “destroyed by the Netherlands because they are disgusting”. And he isn’t talking about their style of play or the end result of their darkest night. Their cynicism was excusable by their limitations and their physical play was excusable by their need to survive and advance.

On Wednesday morning here, the reaction was as ferocious as it was predictable. The locals walked like zombies past the news-stands and the front-page headlines hit you almost as hard as the barrage of German goals in the first half.

“Congratulations to the runners-up of 1950,” a reference to the Maracanazo, when Brazil lost to arch-rivals Uruguay in the World Cup final at the Maracana. “Yesterday we found out what shame really is.”

“There will be no cover. While you read that, Germany just scored again.”

“Go to hell, Felipão.”

“Shame. Disgrace. Humiliation... This team made history.”

But while the media have combed over the team’s technical and tactical faults, as if there is any point, it has been the infantile attitude and grotesque behaviour of the squad that are far more troubling for most people.

When considering the fallout from all this, you need to realise the place the Selecao hold in the hearts and minds of Brazil and how a unique bond has been destroyed. It can often be too easy to lump a stereotype on the locals when it comes to football but where else do grown men comb the streets long into the night, setting off fireworks to mark a result, and where else would the major national newspaper run a piece about the effect the German game would have on the children of the nation?

But for those beyond the elite classes in an impoverished country, their football team is how they try and project themselves positively on to the world. Unlike any other place, until this week there was a vital link between super-wealthy players and the lower classes that adored and cherished them. A Brazilian fan shows his dejection after the FIFA World Cup 2014 semi final match between Brazil and Germany at the Estadio Mineirao in Belo Horizonte, Brazil A Brazilian fan shows his dejection

When the side have arrived in each and every city, the favelas have spilt out on to the motorways in the hope of catching a glimpse of the players, even though these are the same people that have been priced out of games. Many less well-off Brazilians are embarrassed by their circumstance, surroundings and corrupt politicians, but never by their football team. That is until now and that is from where the pain emanates.

If the side were torn apart by the self-made emotion that they used to try to hold themselves together throughout the tournament, then it was synonymous with how the side also tried to elevate themselves above those they claim to represent.

For instance, in the build-up to the semi-final, there wasn’t a single mention of the names of Charlys Frederico Nascimento and Hanna Cristina Santos. Both were 25 years of age and were crushed to death when a bridge collapsed on to a bus near Belo Horizonte’s Mineirão less than a week before the stadium hosted the Germany match. But to say it is a tragedy already forgotten would be to assume, wrongly, that it was acknowledged in the first place.

Instead, against the backdrop of a fatal accident many believe was because of construction projects being rushed so they were finished for the tournament, Luiz Felipe Scolari and Thiago Silva talked at press conferences about the soul of Neymar being with them and how any performance and result would be in his memory.

It was part of a process whereby they tried to raise themselves to the status of gods but in reality they only alienated themselves. Indeed, in defeat and in tears, David Luiz said after their elimination that he was sorry he couldn’t make his people happy. It was the sort of quote that wouldn’t have seemed out of place coming from Jesus and it was another example of the pompous, arrogant nature of the team that existed in a bubble and left you feeling sorry for ordinary Brazilian people.

Where before they were made to pay an extraordinary physical price by their government to bring the World Cup here, now they’ve had to pay an extraordinary mental price because of how their team acted in front of the eyes of the globe.

In the aftermath of the 7-1 loss, small pockets of violence pockmarked the landscape. Tear gas was fired in Belo Horizonte, bars were trashed across the north-east, riot police were called to break up scuffles in Sao Paulo’s bohemian Vila Madalena while, elsewhere in the city, buses were set alight. But as time has passed there is simply a sense of disillusionment and disbelief at what has happened. Now that it’s nearly over, this ghost will haunt the nation for far longer than even the Maracanazo and may never be exorcised.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

Not even the 'putrid throat' could stop the Ross Poldark swoon-fest'

Not even the 'putrid throat' could stop the Ross Poldark swoon-fest'

How a costume drama became a Sunday night staple
Miliband promises no stamp duty for first-time buyers as he pushes Tories on housing

Miliband promises no stamp duty for first-time buyers

Labour leader pushes Tories on housing
Aviation history is littered with grand failures - from the the Bristol Brabazon to Concorde - but what went wrong with the SuperJumbo?

Aviation history is littered with grand failures

But what went wrong with the SuperJumbo?
Fear of Putin, Islamists and immigration is giving rise to a new generation of Soviet-style 'iron curtains' right across Europe

Fortress Europe?

Fear of Putin, Islamists and immigration is giving rise to a new generation of 'iron curtains'
Never mind what you're wearing, it's what you're reclining on

Never mind what you're wearing

It's what you're reclining on that matters
General Election 2015: Chuka Umunna on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband

Chuka Umunna: A virus of racism runs through Ukip

The shadow business secretary on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband
Yemen crisis: This exotic war will soon become Europe's problem

Yemen's exotic war will soon affect Europe

Terrorism and boatloads of desperate migrants will be the outcome of the Saudi air campaign, says Patrick Cockburn
Marginal Streets project aims to document voters in the run-up to the General Election

Marginal Streets project documents voters

Independent photographers Joseph Fox and Orlando Gili are uploading two portraits of constituents to their website for each day of the campaign
Game of Thrones: Visit the real-life kingdom of Westeros to see where violent history ends and telly tourism begins

The real-life kingdom of Westeros

Is there something a little uncomfortable about Game of Thrones shooting in Northern Ireland?
How to survive a social-media mauling, by the tough women of Twitter

How to survive a Twitter mauling

Mary Beard, Caroline Criado-Perez, Louise Mensch, Bunny La Roche and Courtney Barrasford reveal how to trounce the trolls
Gallipoli centenary: At dawn, the young remember the young who perished in one of the First World War's bloodiest battles

At dawn, the young remember the young

A century ago, soldiers of the Empire – many no more than boys – spilt on to Gallipoli’s beaches. On this 100th Anzac Day, there are personal, poetic tributes to their sacrifice
Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves

Follow the money as never before

Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves, reports Rupert Cornwell
Samuel West interview: The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents

Samuel West interview

The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents
General Election 2015: Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, on what the leaders' appearances tell us about them
Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

The architect of the HeForShe movement and head of UN Women on the world's failure to combat domestic violence