At matches after the final, Barbosa was ridiculed for his mistake by the spectators. He was denied coaching jobs after his playing career. He was vilified. People spat at him, abused him. Life was never the same for the talented ‘keeper, who made a name by playing without goalkeeping gloves. Barbosa later commented just before his death: “In Brazil, the most you get for any crime is 30 years. For 50 years I’ve been paying for a crime I did not commit.”
After building the extravagant Maracana Stadium, Brazil wanted to win the World Cup to prove the world they could offer something both on and off the pitch after years of dictatorship.
In 1946, just four years prior to the World Cup, Brazil drafted a democratic constitution. With the European nations still recovering from the blow of World War II, Brazil had the onus to prove the world they had finally moved on from years of colonization and slavery.
As Alex Bellos of The Guardian puts, “In the first decades of the 20th century, the poor, black underclass was seen as a cause of Brazilian backwardness.” He further adds, “It was not until the 1930s that a new, exciting style of football played by its black and mixed-race footballers began to make Brazilians feel proud of the country’s racial mix.”
Winning the World Cup would have unified Brazil’s diverse culture and proved the world of their socio-economic growth. It would have out them on par with the West. Instead, they were defeated by minnows Uruguay.
2014 World Cup- Redemption
The 2014 World Cup will provide Brazil the chance to exorcise the ghost of 1950. They will be on home soil and are the favorites to win the tournament. Brazil are the only nation to have not won the World Cup as the host nation, and they hope to change that in a couple months’ time. Soccer unites the country and expectations are high again. The pressure on the players will be humongous but they’ll need to overcome it or another national tragedy could be on its way.