Joshua Robinson – Wall Street Journal, 11/04/2013
Millions of fans had flooded the streets of Rio de Janeiro’s northern neighborhoods, surrounding the Estadio Mario Filho, better known as the Maracanã, the biggest soccer stadium on the planet. The luckiest 200,000 among them had been allowed inside, well over the stated capacity of around 174,000. They had smuggled in streamers and flares and drums. Carnival on the terraces. For hours, they danced and sang in the sun, long before a single player took the field. They had all come to Brazil’s new cathedral to soccer, purpose-built for this 1950 World Cup, to bask in their country’s proudest moment. Brazil was about to beat Uruguay and win its first World Cup. They knew it.
Everyone had told them so. That morning, July 16, the newspaper O Mundo, albeit a second-tier one, printed a photo of the team under the headline, “These Are the World Champions!” And before the teams kicked off, the mayor of Rio, Angelo Mendes de Moraes, greeted the Brazilians over the loudspeaker. “You, players, who in less than a few hours will be hailed as champions by millions of your compatriots!” he said, according to “Futebol,” Alex Bellos’s history of Brazilian soccer. “You, who have no rivals in the entire hemisphere! You, who will overcome any other competitor! You, who I already salute as victors!”