Sunday will see the first match of the World Cup to be held in Rio, when Argentina will take on Bosnia Herzegovina. The match will be held in the city’s legendary Maracana stadium. The last time a World Cup match was held in the stadium was the 1950 final. As Stephen Gibbs reports, that became a traumatic occasion for millions of Brazilians.
It is the most emblematic stadium in all of Brazil. Millions have been spent restoring it in time for this World Cup. However, the Maracana does evoke mixed emotions in this country. Sixty-four years ago, it was here that a nation’s dream died. July 1950, and Brazil was the clear favorite in the match against Uruguay. With the championship then decided on points, everyone assumed Brazil – which only needed to draw – would take the trophy. That was until Uruguay went ahead two to one, eleven minutes before the final whistle.
Cybelle Rebello, now 86, was just 22, when she went to watch the game. However soon she, like all Brazil, would learn that nothing in life is certain. This wasn’t a football match. It was a national tragedy.
One nation’s shame has since become another’s source of amusement. Ahead of this World Cup, marketers promoting the Uruguayan team made this advertisement. It mocks Brazilians’ fear of the ghost of the Maracana. Maybe what happened in 1950 holds a lesson for all the teams competing in the tournament this year: never underestimate your opponent.
Cybelle will be watching this World Cup as keenly as she watched the games in 1950. Like then, she is absolutely convinced she knows who is going to win.