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Once An Object Of Reverence, Brazilian Soccer's A Punchline
Originally published on Tue August 19, 2014 6:38 pm
It's been over a month since the World Cup ended in Brazil, but the shame of the country's blowout loss remains. Once, Brazilians were welcomed in other countries with talk of Brazil's soccer dominance; now, everyone merely speaks of their historic defeat against Germany.
AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:
Finally this hour, drama from the world of soccer. It's been over a month since the World Cup ended in Brazil, and Brazilians are facing up to an uncomfortable new reality. NPR's Lourdes Garcia-Navarro sent this story from São Paulo on how Brazilians are sick of hearing about these two numbers - 7 to 1.
LOURDES GARCIA-NAVARRO, BYLINE: It's a moment Brazilians would rather forget. In fact, inside Brazil, no one really talks about it.
(SOUNDBITE OF WORLD CUP ANNOUNCERS)
GARCIA-NAVARRO: Brazil's stunning defeat by Germany in the semifinals of the World Cup. It's now referred to here simply by the numbers 7 to 1 - no need for further explanation, or more importantly, discussion. But while Brazilians inside Brazil can practice willful amnesia, no such luck for those traveling abroad.
GARCIA-NAVARRO: Hi how are you?
ILLANIS ESCARBOZA: I'm good, thank you. And you?
GARCIA-NAVARRO: That is Illanis Escarboza (ph), a Brazilian who lives in London. The first inkling that something had changed for Brazilians, she says, started pretty early after that game.
ESCARBOZA: I have a very close friend who's German, and then she was the first one to come to me and kind of apologize for the result.
GARCIA-NAVARRO: Escarboza says she wasn't offended and she brushed it off. She's not a soccer fanatic, she tells me. Then she went to work the next day and people wouldn't stop talking about it.
ESCARBOZA: Really, like everyone apologizing saying they were sorry.
GARCIA-NAVARRO: By the end of the day, she'd had enough.
ESCARBOZA: And I was getting kind of annoyed by that. And everyone was just like making silly jokes or pretending it was really bad for me.
GARCIA-NAVARRO: It hasn't stopped since. Every time she meets someone and says she's Brazilian, they mention it. The way she shuts them up - by reminding people that Brazil is still a five-time world champion.
So you went from someone who didn't really care about soccer to now having to defend Brazil's honor?
ESCARBOZA: Yes, because that's the way they stop talking about it.
GARCIA-NAVARRO: It wasn't always this way. Brazilians I've spoken to talk with nostalgia about the days before the great defeat. Then, they'd show up in any country, hop in a cab and immediately the wave of love came cresting over them.
GARCIA-NAVARRO: Everyone revered us because we had the best football in the world. Talking about football, we were seen as an excellent country, says Adal Miranda (ph). He's a lawyer, he travels a lot. But this summer, he was unfortunate enough to be in Germany on vacation during that ill-fated game on the eighth of July.
GARCIA-NAVARRO: We started watching and suddenly - goal, goal, goal. We went up to the room during halftime because we were ashamed. When we woke up the next morning, everyone at the hotel knew we were Brazilian, he says, and they wouldn't leave them alone. At breakfast, he says, it was, so sorry for the humiliation, so sorry for your defeat. Oh, you are Brazilians? Poor guys. He, too, resorted to changing the subject.
Ana Claudes Niesco (ph) has just come back from traveling, and she says the defeat is still on everyone's mind. But it's also led to some bonding experiences.
GARCIA-NAVARRO: I was on a tour bus and an Argentinean guy behind me was lamenting, talking about the Germany and Argentina final, she says. And I joined the conversation, telling him to just stop complaining. That's nothing, I told him. What about me who's Brazilian? She got a hug in return.
Others, though, are choosing to deal with a future of endless rehashes in a different way.
GARCIA-NAVARRO: Lawyer Adal Miranda says if I go back to Germany, I will probably not tell them I'm Brazilian. Lourdes Garcia-Navarro, NPR News, São Paulo. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.