The Canadian Press - ONLINE EDITION
Brazilians struggle to come to grips with humiliating thrashing by Germany in World Cup
SAO PAULO - It wasn't just a bad dream. Brazilians woke up Wednesday to dreadful headlines describing the shame and humiliation of their soccer team's historic defeat of 7-1 to Germany in the World Cup's semifinal.
There were also reports of violence breaking out right after the game with many buses being torched in the country's biggest city. At least one store selling electronics and household appliances was sacked, but there were no immediate reports of injuries.
The country's leading soccer publication stated simply: "A day to forget."
"It was the most shameful performance of all times," said Almir Rogelio, 32, who was waiting at a newspaper stand for a friend. "I honestly woke up and didn't even want to remember what happened."
During Tuesday's match, Germany scored faster than partying fans could keep count. Later, tears smudged the faces of children painted in Brazil's colours of canary yellow and green. Brazil coach Felipe Scolari buried his face in his hands.
Dreams of a sixth championship shattered in the first half hour of the game when Germany was already leading by a numbing 5-0. Many fans in the Belo Horizonte stadium left by halftime when it became clear Brazil was being routed at home. Some tore up their tickets and gave the thumbs down to TV cameras.
"It was a tragedy. Sad, very sad, the greatest defeat of all the history of the Brazilian national team," wrote Tostao, one of Brazil's forwards in the 1970 World Cup and now a sports columnist for the Folha de S. Paulo newspaper.
In Sao Paulo, thousands gathered to watch the match in the neighbourhood of Vila Madalena. Samir Kelvin clung to a street pole and loudly cried: "I have nothing left! I am Brazilian and humiliated I want to kill myself!" as another man nearby banged his head against a bar table.
Most heartbreaking for many Brazilians was suffering the country's worst World Cup defeat on home turf, as it hosted the tournament for the first time in 64 years.
"It was embarrassing. They have some nerve with the Brazilian people. We deserved so much better," said Manuel Alves, 58. "The worst was all the money spent, having so many other problems that need to be fixed."
Brazil spent billions of dollars preparing for the tournament, and the high cost has ignited angry protests against the World Cup over the past year. Demonstrators have complained about so much being spent while the nation suffers from woeful public services.
After the loss, many Brazilians were strongly questioning whether holding the event was worth it, a bad omen for President Dilma Rousseff. She is campaigning for a re-election bid in October that many think could be made tougher by the soccer team's poor showing.
"Like many Brazilians, I'm very, very sad because of this defeat," Rousseff said as she took to Twitter to try to rally the nation. "I feel bad for all of us — for fans and for our players. But let's not be broken. Brazil, 'get up, shake off the dust and come out on top.' "
Although few thought Brazil's humiliating loss would spark renewed mass protests, it is sure to put a severely sour taste back into the mouths of the nation's fans.
"I hope this can make people wake up and start thinking with their heads and not their emotions and that people translate the anger they are feeling at the ballot boxes," said Antonio Hipolito, who works at a bookstore in a wealthy part of Rio but lives in a distant, hardscrabble neighbourhood.
"Soccer is just an illusion and we need to wake up to reality," he said.
Barchfield reported from Rio de Janeiro. Associated Press journalists Alan Clendenning in Rio de Janeiro and Yesica Fisch in Belo Horizonte contributed to this report.
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