"Every nation has its own national disaster, like Hiroshima in Japan . Our Hiroshima was the loss to Uruguay in 1950”… He said it all!
Whatever you try to write 70 years after the Maracana Tragedy it will be like throwing a stone into the ocean of literature "spent" describing an unrepeatable disaster.
Our great poet Kiki Dimoula she didn't do well with football, but "defeats" fascinated her:"Will you give up defeat? Defeat is tradition spoken from body to body perpetuated. Have you ever seen any dream of postmodern victory last?"
So imagine, that the Maracana Tragedy still fascinates Brazilians today. in a macabre way and in fact like no other historical event. It is so special that there is even a unique word that expresses it and the Argentinians say it rubbing their hands with joy:Maracanazo !
So many books about defeat...
And with a draw he was celebrating, but...
Brazil's national team, Seleção, was the super team for its fans at the end of the 1940s. In every game an unbeatable attacking line with Ademir, Friaka, Chico and Zaire. They averaged more than four goals apiece and in the 1950 World Cup finals in Brazil they had thrashed Spain 7-1, Sweden 6-1 and now only needed a draw in their clash with Uruguay, ahead to 200,000 (The official attendance of 173,850 is a record for a football match, but it is estimated that more than 200,000 people were in the Maracana that day) fans in the sacred Maracana to celebrate the first World Cup.
Winning the Cup seemed like the best chance for a nation that had recently regained its democracy after 15 years of dictatorship to regain its stature and feel proud of the football it worships like a religion. The Brazilians took the lead with Friaka, but Juan Alberto Schiafino, an Italian-Paraguayan by origin, equalized. And then came the disaster:Alcides Gitzia he was the one who, with a 2nd goal for Uruguay, silenced the Maracana.
“Every nation has its own national disaster, like Hiroshima in Japan. Our Hiroshima was the defeat by Uruguay in 1950." With this phrase the famous Brazilian journalist Nelson Rodríguez had yielded the Seleção's Waterloo. The final whistle found thousands of Brazilians crying in the stands and millions mourning.
Two fans are said to have committed suicide by falling from the stands and dozens more have taken their own lives. A little boy, whom his friends called Pele, then approached his tearful father and promised him:Don't cry, I'll bring you a World Cup. And it brought him three! Since then, the Brazilians have won 5 World Cups, but the one that was lost so unexpectedly in Rio they do not forget and it still hurts!
The Legends of Barbossa
Brazil goalkeeper Moasir Barbosa since then it has been stigmatized. As he once told, 20 years after the Maracana, a woman recognized him in a shop and turned around and said to her child:"This is the man who made all of Brazil cry"! In fact, in 1993, Barbosa was going to visit the training center of the Brazilian National Team, but he was forbidden for fear of bringing junk to the national team! of angels... He was the man who in Brazil was worshiped more than anyone else. But the next day, the best goalkeeper in the world, turned into a traitor to his country:Barbosa failed to prevent Uruguay's goal, which stole the trophy from Brazil.
Thirteen years later, when the Maracana stadium was renovated Barbossa gathered up the three rafters under which he had been humiliated because of that goal, hacked them to pieces with the ax, and burned them to ashes. The exorcism did not save him from the curse".
Barbosa is said to have invited friends over for a barbecue at his home in northern Rio. They learned the reason after they arrived. The fire was unusually large and sizzled with burning oil paint. Barbosa didn't burn ordinary wood, he burned the Maracana goalposts turning to ashes those beams that had scarred his life...
Barbosa died impoverished in 2000 and few people attended his funeral. "The maximum sentence for a crime in Brazil is 30 years, but I suffer 50 years without even being guilty," he declared shortly before he heard... the final whistle of his life.
Let's not forget:Brazil's jersey was white , but after the 1950 World Cup, white was considered grubby and the color changed once and for all. And the winners?
"We in Uruguay live in the moment"
On the day of the final, a 15-year-old Brazilian, Aldir he had flown into Uruguay crossing the Maoa Bridge to go to the cinema. The afternoon screening was suddenly interrupted, the lights came on and a voice trembling with emotion and solemnity announced in Spanish:"Attention we have the pleasure to announce that Uruguay is world champion in soccer!". The audience stood up and sang the national anthem!
Alcides Gitzias , the football player who had crushed 200,000 people in Maracana lived until 2015 saying often:"In life everything happens for a moment, which when it passes you forget it".
He knew it well but that Brazil - unlike Uruguay - never forgot him:In 2000 they invited him to visit Rio. At the airport he gave his passport for inspection. The girl at the counter was not 23-24 years old. He took the passport and was looking at it curiously.
"There is a problem" , Gitjia asked. "Excuse me" he replied "are you the well-known Gitzia?" - I told her in surprise, considering that she was very young and many years had passed since 1950. But she put her hand to her heart and said to him, looking at him in awe:"We here feel as if not a single day has passed." !
Gizia had once said :"Sometimes I feel like I'm the ghost of Brazil. I am always there, in their memories! We in Uruguay live in the moment. It's over and done..."
And he had said something else:"The football sanctuary was as quiet as a grave. Only three people, with a single movement, silenced the Maracana:Frank Sinatra , Pope John Paul II ' me too"!
Sources:Alex Bellos:Futebol - Eduardo Galeano:The Days Are Told - Mirrors
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