By Peter FitzSimons, Sydney Morning Herald
Let’s have a look at other times in the history of sport, when the home team, in no less than a World Cup, has gone down by a margin where their opponent has scored SEVEN times the number of points/goals/tries than they have.
No, I can’t think of any either. Not for nothing are they referring to Brazil as BRA71L in the Twittersphere, and calling Germany “Ger many many goals!” As long as sport is played, getting a Brazilian is going to mean getting a sporting haircut the likes of which no one could have ever imagined.
For me, the only thing missing was that Geelong supporter who yelled to the Hawthorn players, after his side had just thumped the Hawks in late April: “PULL YOUR PANTS UP! IT’S OVER!”
Not for those players it won’t be. So staggering the loss, so humiliating, so earth-shattering for a nation that practically defines itself by its ability in “the beautiful game,” that all those who took the field will never be allowed to forget it.
And it’s not just sporting humiliation at stake.
For despite that nation’s obsession with the game, we’ve all seen the furious protests at the insanity of a substantially impoverished nation spending – count it – $11.1 BILLION, to put on a tournament that goes for just four weeks.
It is money the government didn’t have, and inevitably the budget for all of schools, hospitals and roads had to be slashed to build the massive stadiums, including one in the middle of the Amazon that is unlikely to ever see serious use again. The one justification that the government had for it, was that hosting the World Cup would add to the national glory, and it would be worth every penny. Via the use of thousands of soldiers and police the government have been just able to keep a lid on the many protests of tens of thousands of Brazilians against the Cup.
Now that the nation is left humiliated as never before, a byword for sporting catastrophe, how will the government go now?
The first signs are not good, with Brazilian fans at the game – who, by definition, are not only extremely wealthy, but also supporters of the expenditure – chanting at the 40th minute to Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff “Hey, Dilma, go get ****ed in the ***!”
You don’t even want to know what those *** translate to.
So if that is what the well-heeled Brazilians are chanting, what about the people in the barrios, in the shanty towns, on the mean streets of Rio?
When it comes to expressing one’s disappointment at soccer results, South America has a staggering history, the most famous example being what happened between El Salvador and Honduras after a qualifying game for the World Cup.
After El Salvador lost the first match 1-0 in Honduras – in part because they hadn’t been able to get a wink of sleep for the Hondurans beeping horns around their hotel all night long – an 18-year-old Salvadoran girl by the name of Amelia Bolanios went straight from the television set to her father’s study, got his gun, and shot herself in the heart. The Salvadoran newspaper, El Nacional, reported the next day that “the young girl could not bear to see her fatherland brought to its knees.” As detailed by Ryszard Kapuscinski in his bookThe Soccer War, the girl was instantly all but deified, accorded a nationally televised funeral with army honour guard and the El Salvador flag draped over her coffin. The only way the return bout could take place was with the Hondurans entering the ground behind a shield of the Salvadoran Guardia Nacional holding sub-machine guns. They lost 3-0.
Many Honduran supporters were kicked and beaten, two of them died. One hundred and fifty cars were burnt and those survivors that could, scurried back to the border in whatever wheels they could get. The border was closed only hours after the final whistle and on dusk the next day, a plane flew over the Honduran capital, and dropped a bomb. For the next 100 hours it raged, with the air forces of both countries bombing strategic targets, while their land forces skirmished across each others’ borders and 6000 people were killed in the process.
I don’t suggest that will happen in Brazil. I do suggest that the loss will unleash passions in the people that will see huge social unrest that, at the least, will sweep away the Brazilian President. And I bet the International Olympic Committee is nervous right now, as it contemplates holding the Olympics in Rio in 2016.
Stand by, sports fans, this could get ugly.
Peter FitzSimons is exclusively managed by The Fordham Company.