Brazil 0-0 Mexico, 2014 FIFA World Cup first round
18 June 2014
I took a walk in the hour before the second “Brazil expects” moment, its second game against Mexico. The first one, the 3-1 win over Croatia, had been inundated with a furious and contagious energy, the colour yellow, the impromptu extended version of the anthem sung by the crowd; just everything.
In a country that doesn’t fall for the all-out nationalism and shirt-wearing of the smaller countries, they’ve jumped on board. There are yellow shirts all around on Brazil match days, verdeamarelo balloons, fireworks let out through most of the match in the surrounding neighbourhood, people hurrying home from work.
In this moment when everything is still possible, the outcome of the 2014 World Cup is fluid, dynamic and open rather than the dry (and sad?) history it will forever be afterwards, I wonder how much these people will live or die by this, these casual people who perfected the wearing of thongs (both the footwear and the bikini type) and whose headstrong confidence probably secretly shames even the famously proud Argentines. Time has moved on from 1950 when all of Brazil committed suicide over losing the final 2-1 to Uruguay in Rio de Janeiro, we’ve got iPods, jobs, money and other things to occupy our minds now, but it will be sad if they can’t pull off victory in their “own” tournament. Even France lost their shit in the same circumstances in 1998 and they are disdainful of anything as naive as hope and positivity.
Sometimes this place seems as new as Australia but often I can feel the same vibe as in Bolivia, the cracked roads, the appearance of the house façades, the mixed blood of the people. 2014 is special for them, however old-fashioned putting your faith in a bunch of 22 year old dudes is; this tournament will never happen again. So when the cracks appeared in the supreme verdeamarelo front that golden boys Neymar and Oscar had presented, when they couldn’t beat Mexico in the second game and it appears that Brazil is not quite good enough to win the World Cup, that 1950 will not be avenged, will the professionals move on from this? Will the people scratching it out in poverty move on from this?