Brazil’s media despairs over historic football defeat

Luiz Felipe Scolari

Historic humiliation! Historic disgrace! Historic defeat! Worst in 94 years!

The headlines across Brazil’s newspapers on Tuesday night left no doubt: the country’s devastating 7-1 loss to Germany in the World Cup semi-finals will make Brazilians wince for generations.

There was little anger, few accusations and – perhaps surprisingly – barely any mention of Brazil’s absent star player Neymar or the Colombian defender Juan Zúñiga who broke the Brazilian’s back last week and took him out of the tournament. Instead, the mood was solely of utter despair.

While several columnists sportingly paid their respects to the German side for their discipline and determination, this did little to explain the “inexplicable” defeat, they wrote. After all, Germany only beat France 1-0 and before that, needed extra time to defeat Algeria and couldn’t even win against Ghana in the group phase.

Of course, Felipão (‘Big Phil’ as Brazil’s coach Luiz Felipe Scolari is known) did not escape criticism. Commentators lamented his choice of Bernard as Neymar’s replacement as well as his insistence on playing Fred. However, the jibes were somewhat muted by the coach’s own frank admission in the press conference following the match: “Who was responsible for the result? It was me.” “It was the worst day of my life,” he said.

The most extreme criticisms in the Brazilian press came from Luiz Zanin at the Estado de S.Paulo newspaper, who called for the team’s entire coaching staff to be sacked and the Brazilian Football Confederation to be shut down. He also advised that “all players [from Tuesday’s match] promise never to wear the sacred shirt again which they stained with humiliation today”.

Other newspapers ran half-hearted stories about Mick Jagger – the Rolling Stones front man who has jokingly become known in Brazil as a sign of bad luck in World Cup games. He was pictured with his son, wearing a Brazil shirt, at the match against Germany in Belo Horizonte.

However, on the whole, Brazil’s newspapers were full of soul-searching columns and stories about how Brazilian football needs to change after Tuesday night.

Bernardo Pombo at Globo summed it up as follows: “What is the concept behind Brazilian football? Is there one? Do we train players in the right way? What is the role of psychology?…Why don’t our clubs pay salaries on time? Why do Brazilian clubs sweat blood to improve their infrastructure when the Germans build a training centre in a World Cup host country for a tournament that lasts a month? Why do so many Brazilian players prefer to play abroad before they turn 18?”

Among all the questions, though, there was one rather more urgent one: and what about Saturday? While Brazilians would probably rather curl up and forget about the World Cup altogether, the national team still must play a final game in the capital Brasília on Saturday to decide third place.

And there is only one thing that would be more humiliating than losing 7-1 to Germany at home and that is to subsequently suffer another devastating defeat to Argentina, Brazil’s arch-rivals.

To avoid that scenario, some commentators advocate doing something during Wednesday’s game between Argentina and Holland that has also never happened before in Brazil’s history: supporting Argentina.

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