World Cup 2014: Brazil Was Embarrassed, but an Argentina Victory Would Have Been Intolerable
RIO DE JANEIRO — Brazil suffered mightily with its national team’s 7-1 rout at the hands of Germany in the World Cup semifinals last week, but the authorities here breathed sighs of relief as the tournament came to a close on Sunday with Germany’s victory over Argentina, amid muted street protests and a display of Brazil’s ability to successfully organize sporting megaevents.
“The Cup would have been perfect, except for the lack of the sixth championship,” Brazil’s president, Dilma Rousseff, said in a brief speech at Maracanã, the stadium that was turned into a militarized zone after security forces severely restricted access over concerns that demonstrations could disrupt the final match.
Brazilian soccer fans, who traditionally view Argentina as their chief rival, seemed to be generally pleased with the result of the game. When Germany scored its only goal in the 113th minute, securing victory in extra time, fireworks were set off across the city.
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“The pope may be Argentine, but God is Brazilian,” said Aldo Malizia, 66, a Brazilian retiree, using a common saying and referring to the nationality of Pope Francis.
The rivalry brought some tension to the streets of Rio.
“The Brazilians are cheering after losing so badly, 7-1,” said Cristian Leyes, 33, the owner of a small tourism business in Buenos Aires who was one of some 100,000 Argentine fans visiting Brazil for the game. “They have always been our rivals in soccer, but this is beyond upsetting. It makes no sense.”
In the beachfront district of Copacabana, Carlos Abran, 52, a doctor from Santa Fe province in Argentina and who was wearing an Argentina jersey, said someone jeered at him over his country’s loss.
“I am angry not because we lost the actual game,” he said. “What makes me angry is that I don’t understand why the Brazilian people have to party at our disgrace.”
Though there were reports of a brawl between Brazilians and Argentines in Copacabana, one group of Argentines seemed determined to be festive on Sunday night, banging drums and singing and dancing. “We came a very long way, and we’re going to have a good time,” said Lucas Mazzola, 38, a casino worker from the province of Córdoba.
“Yes, this defeat hurts my soul, it hurts my heart,” he added. “But we’re a country where despite all the problems we are facing, we’re a happy people.”
Brazil’s political fissures were exposed on the global stage when Brazilian fans inside the stadium booed Rousseff, who is running for re-election this year, and took up offensive chants about her. She faced similar insults at the opening match a month ago — she did not attend any other games — reflecting spreading disenchantment with her leftist government among some Brazilians who are prosperous enough to afford tickets to World Cup matches.
The authorities had assembled what ranked as one of the largest security operations ever in Brazil, with 25,000 soldiers and police officers giving Rio a martial feel throughout the day with sirens blaring and motorcades halting traffic.
Source: Simon Romero – http://www.nytimes.com/2014/07/14/sports/worldcup/world-cup-2014-brazil-was-embarrassed-but-an-argentina-victory-would-have-been-intolerable.html?_r=0