Success for Brazil, Just Not on the Field

Jeré Longman – The New York Times, 7/13/2014

RIO DE JANEIRO — When Mario Götze settled a crossing pass with his chest and volleyed a goal that won the World Cup, German fans roared in ecstatic release. Those from Brazil were nearly as delirious, even if it was out of relief as much as celebration.

It might have seemed an odd sight, Brazilian fans celebrating another team inside their own cathedral of soccer, the Maracanã stadium. But after two demoralizing losses brought national embarrassment, solace finally came Sunday as Germany defeated Argentina, 1-0, to become the first European team to win a World Cup played in North or South America.

“Argentina winning would have been the worst thing I could think of,” said Jaime Costa, 30, a Brazil fan who works in publicity for a music company.

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For Brazil, it’s not the end of the world

Simon Kuper – Financial Times, 7/11/2014

Despite Brazil’s 7-1 thrashing by Germany, the country could have had a much worse World Cup. Early in the tournament, I took the Rio metro to a match at the Maracanã stadium. I had never been in such a packed carriage. For minutes it was hard to breathe. When we got to the stadium, everyone tumbled out alive. It could have been different.

Then there was the stairway at the Maracanã, which began wobbling when hundreds of Argentine and Bosnian fans walked up it. It held, and was later reinforced. An overpass in Belo Horizonte built for the tournament did collapse, killing two people. Still, things could have been much worse.

With some luck, Brazil pulled off the World Cup – the organisation, at least. Now comes the question: what’s the legacy? The tournament won’t make Brazilians richer, and yet it has changed the country.

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The defeat that Brazil can’t forget

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!”

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Brazil protests: victory on the pitch but grievances remain

Jonathan Watts – The Guardian

Mood changes do not come much more dramatic than the shift within two hours and four blocks near the Maracanã stadium in Rio de Janeiro on Sunday night.

Inside that small window, one neighbourhood was choked with angry protests, clouds of teargas and volleys of rubber bullets, while a short walk away joyful crowds sang, danced and exploded in celebration at Brazil’s victory in the Confederations Cup final.

It was an odd sensation strolling from one to the other, past recently fired cartridges and fallen placards to garage forecourt TV screens where locals and police stared up together at the events on the pitch, in reality only a stone’s throw or two away.

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Party outweighs protest after Brazil Confederations Cup victory

Pedro Fonseca – Reuters, 07/01/2013

Small skirmishes between police and protesters did little to disrupt the festive atmosphere around the close of a major international soccer tournament that has been the backdrop for the biggest mass demonstrations to sweep Brazil in 20 years.

Police clashed with a few belligerent protesters during a small demonstration outside Rio de Janeiro’s Maracanã stadium late Sunday. Inside, Brazil’s national team, cheered on by a thunderous hometown crowd, shut out world champions Spain 3-0.

The surprise victory marked a celebratory end to the Confederations Cup, a two-week tournament that has otherwise been overshadowed by the rapid and unexpected wave of recent discontent in Latin America’s biggest country. The Confederations Cup is considered a warmup to the much-bigger World Cup, which Brazil will host next year.

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Dilma Rousseff approval rating fall as troubles mount

Joe Leahy – The Financial Times, 07/01/2013

The Confederations Cup, the warm-up tournament for the World Cup next year, ended on Sunday night with police dispersing protesters outside the Maracanã stadium in Rio de Janeiro with tear gas while inside Brazil thrashed Spain.

The 3-0 victory by the home team over the world champions was a rare piece of good news for President Dilma Rousseff, whose approval ratings have fallen 27 percentage points since early June when Brazil’s nationwide political protests started, according to a new poll by Datafolha.

“This is the most dramatic change ever detected by Datafolha in such a short three-week period since March 1990, when President Collor imposed his economic plan that confiscated Brazilians’ savings,” said David Fleischer, referring to Fernando Collor, who resigned as president in 1992 after being impeached.

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Clashes erupt outside Brazil football venue

Al Jazeera, 06/30/2013

Protesters have clashed with police near Rio’s Maracana stadium, minutes before the start of the Brazil-Spain final of the Confederations Cup, AFP reported.

Al Jazeera’s Adam Raney reporting from Rio de Janeiro, after the match had begun, said that clashes had died down.

Earlier, some 5,000 people sang and danced to samba music as they marched towards the stadium, before being blocked by a police security cordon on Sunday.

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