A Look Back: When Uruguay Shocked Brazil in the 1950 World Cup

After the match, in Rio, a fifty-eight-year-old man collapsed at his home. Two fans committed suicide inside the stadium. The surviving footage of Ghiggia’s goal is described as “Zapruder’s film of Kennedy getting shot.” There were tears and many suicides across the country in the following days.

“Only three people have reduced the Maracana to silence: Frank Sinatra, the Pope and me,” Ghiggia later commented. Uruguay captain Varela was presented the trophy by Jules Rimet, but was advised against raising it.

According to reports, Costa, coach of the Brazilian team, “discretely exited the stadium disguised as a nanny.” Moreover, the Brazilian team did not participate in matches for the next two years or play in the Maracanã for the next four years. The most visible consequence of the defeat was the fact that Brazil national team changed its jersey colour from white to yellow and green.

“Gigghia’s goal was received in silence by all the stadium. But its strength was so great, its impact so violent, that the goal, one simple goal, seemed to divide Brazilian life into two distinct phases: before it and after it,” wrote author Joáo Máximo.


Brazil’s ‘keeper, Barbosa, was technically at fault for Uruguay’s winner as he was caught out of position.  And that moment changed his life forever. The fact that he was black and Brazil were still tackling the issue of racism at that time only made it worse for Barbosa. He was the first black ‘keeper for the nation and his mistake made him the scapegoat for the disaster.

Via Wikipedia.org

“In 1993, the president of the Brazilian Football Confederation, Ricardo Teixeira, did not allow him (Barbosa) to be commentator during the broadcast of one of Brazil’s international matches.

He was also turned away from a Brazil training session on one occasion out of fear of his being a jinx for the team.

In 1963, Barbosa was presented with the old square wooden goalposts from the Maracanã as a present, which he took home and burned.”

Barbosa was a great goalkeeper, considered as one of the best in the world in the 1940s and 1950s. He won numerous titles with Vasco De Gama and is part of the club’s folklore.

Yet the Brazilians never stopped blaming him for the loss.  Some 20 years after the final a woman spotted Barbosa in a shop and said to her son, “Look at him, he is the man that made all of Brazil cry.”

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