Rio and the ghost of Maracanã Blow

oh so beautiful rio and the gondalas

I love Rio. It was magnificent city. The beach and the sugar loaf mountain and the gondolas over them are picture perfect.

But this is funny: In 1950, the World Cup Soccer was held in Brazil. Europe was in ruins after the world war. But it was darn faraway! Only 13 to 16 qualifying teams said they would travel that far!! Turkey, flat out refused because of way prohibitive costs to travel!

India’s reason for refusal was even more funnier – FIFA (the governing body of international soccer) had banned barefoot play in 1948!! (but the official reason : costs to travel all the way to Brazil!!)

The “Kings of Football” (as they were called then), England lost 1-0 in their group-stage match to the USA!!

At the US soccer  association archives – Walter Bahr – called the greatest american soccer player recalls – ”

“The odd part is, when that tournament was being played there wasn’t more than a very, very small percentage of people in the States that knew what the World Cup was all about,” Bahr said. “I didn’t know that much about it either other than I knew some players that played in the 1930 and the 1934 World Cups.”

Bahr said at the time of the 1950 match, playing was a part-time gig where they had to supplement their incomes with other jobs. He recollects making $50 a week as a Philadelphia high school teacher and $25 per week for a match. Other teammates worked as mail carriers and dishwashers to earn money.

The news was so unexpected, and according to a legend, a London editor who received a cable of the score reported a 10-1 English victory, after assuming England’s score had been transmitted incorrectly

at history website we have this

On July 16, 1950, more than 200,000 people packed into Maracanã stadium to watch the final. The match began promisingly enough for the home crowd, with Brazil attacking the Uruguayan goal with vigor. But the game’s momentum soon shifted—not due to a goal, but because of a fist. Though later downplayed by both parties as merely a “tap,” Uruguayan captain Obdulio Valera appeared to punch Brazilian defender Bigode in the game’s 28th minute, landing what seemed to be the first psychological blow of the match.

Despite the earlier dustup Brazil scored first, when Brazilian striker Friaça fired one past Uruguayan goalkeeper, Roque Máspoli. Uruguay equalized in the 66th minute, when Juan Schiaffino fired past Brazilian goalkeeper. Just 13 minutes later, Uruguay would take the lead on a goal by Alcides Ghiggia, draining the energy completely from the massive crowd. Gigghia said many years later: “Only three people have, with just one motion, silenced the Maracanã: Frank Sinatra, Pope John Paull II and me.”

After the goal, Uruguay fell back to defend, and waited out the last 10 minutes for a 2-1 victory and for their second World Cup championship. The game has since become known in both countries as the Maracanazo, roughly translated as the “Maracanã blow” and, though the victorious team is revered in Uruguay, the game (considered by many to be one of the greatest upsets in World Cup history) remains a crushing blow for Brazilians.