Brazilians Lick Wounds After World Cup Loss To Germany



RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST: I'm Renee Montagne. Brazilians are waking up this morning hoping it was all just a bad dream. In the World Cup semi-final yesterday, the host country was clobbered by Germany 7-1. Brazil invested a lot in making the tournament a success. And its citizens were left to look on in anguish as their team went down in a loss of historic proportions. NPR's Lourdes Garcia-Navarro watched at a bar in Sao Paulo.

LOURDES GARCIA-NAVARRO, BYLINE: It all started so festive and patriotic with everyone joining in for the national anthem, dressed in wigs and costumes in the colors of the Brazilian flag. But the mood very quickly turned sour - shock, horror, anger as Germany scored a goal after goal. Some people walked out of the bar in disgust by halftime. Others held their heads in their hands.


GARCIA-NAVARRO: At the end with the score 7-1, people said they were stunned. Fan Tassio Borges agreed.

TASSIO BORGES: (Portuguese spoken).

GARCIA-NAVARRO: This makes me sad, he said, because the Brazilian people expected more because we are hosting the event. We expected so much from our national team at this moment and instead what happened was a tragedy, he says. You could only call it a tragedy. Not even the most pessimistic Brazilian, he says, could have predicted this. But he didn't blame the national team. He said they were under a lot of pressure. They lost two key players in the last game. They were all very young. The talk instead turned quickly political.

BORGES: (Portuguese spoken).

GARCIA-NAVARRO: The main fear of the government was that Brazil would be embarrassed in the Cup, he says. It didn't happen with the organization of the World Cup, but Brazil is now facing shame on the field. I think this will hurt Brazil's president, Dilma Rousseff. Cilene Saorin said that possibility made her glad.

CILENE SAORIN: Maybe with this bad result, maybe people will wake up. In October when we have elections, maybe we have the results for this because that's enough.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: Before the World Cup many Brazilians were angry at the expense of the games and the mismanagement of key infrastructure projects. Dilma Rousseff 's approval ratings were on the floor. But the event went better than expected. Brazil's national team was advancing and more recent polls have shown that Brazil's mood improved. Rousseff also got a bump. It's human nature, as one analyst told me, to want to blame someone for the unbelievable loss yesterday. And one of the main targets, at least initially, seemed to be Brazil's government. Last night, chanting erupted as Brazil's defeat was unfolding. We can't play it on air because of its vulgarity. But it was against Brazil's president. Still, some analysts say that the negative effect on Rousseff will be short-term.

RAFAEL ALCADIPANI: Well, I don't see any strong connection between the horrible defeat of the Brazilian team to the next general elections in October.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: That's Rafael Alcadipani from the Getulio Vargas Foundation in Sao Paulo. He says this World Cup defeat will be one more factor among many counting against Rousseff's re-election.

ALCADIPANI: In general terms, I think Dilma will have a very difficult time to get re-elected because her government actually didn't deliver as much of we were expecting. So I think that's what Brazilians will count at the end of the day.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: Meanwhile, while the long-term effects of yesterday's events are being debated, almost immediately, there were reports of violence with buses being burned and fights breaking out in many cities.


GARCIA-NAVARRO: Back at the bar, the game ended to catcalls and boos. Fan Roberto Motta put it succinctly.

ROBERTO MOTTA: It's the worst game that I've seen. I've never seen one game like this one. The worst game that I've saw my life.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: Lourdes Garcia-Navarro, NPR News, Sao Paulo.