Once An Object Of Reverence, Brazilian Soccer's A Punchline

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.

Copyright © 2014 NPR. For personal, noncommercial use only. See Terms of Use. For other uses, prior permission required.

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?

IRANI SCARBOSSA: I'm good, thank you. And you?

GARCIA-NAVARRO: That is Irani Scarbossa, a Brazilian who lives in London. The first inkling that something had changed for Brazilians, she says, started pretty early after that game.

SCARBOSSA: 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: Scarbossa 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.

SCARBOSSA: Really, like everyone apologizing saying they were sorry.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: By the end of the day, she'd had enough.

SCARBOSSA: 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?

SCARBOSSA: 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.

(Portuguese spoken.)

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 Aarao Miranda. 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.

(Speaking Portuguese.)

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 Claudia Sniesko 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.

(Speaking Portuguese.)

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.

(Speaking Portuguese.)

GARCIA-NAVARRO: Lawyer Aarao Miranda says if I go back to Germany, I will probably not tell them I'm Brazilian. Lourdes Garcia-Navarro, NPR News, São Paulo.

Copyright © 2014 NPR. All rights reserved. No quotes from the materials contained herein may be used in any media without attribution to NPR. This transcript is provided for personal, noncommercial use only, pursuant to our Terms of Use. Any other use requires NPR's prior permission. Visit our permissions page for further information.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by a contractor for NPR, and accuracy and availability may vary. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Please be aware that the authoritative record of NPR's programming is the audio.

Comments

 

Please keep your community civil. All comments must follow the NPR.org Community rules and terms of use, and will be moderated prior to posting. NPR reserves the right to use the comments we receive, in whole or in part, and to use the commenter's name and location, in any medium. See also the Terms of Use, Privacy Policy and Community FAQ.