Explaining Exactly What a World Cup Win Would Mean for Host Nation Brazil

Use your ← → (arrow) keys to browse more stories
Explaining Exactly What a World Cup Win Would Mean for Host Nation Brazil
Buda Mendes/Getty Images

Hosting a World Cup should be a source of immense pride to any nation, not least those where footballing traditions and culture run deep into society. But in Brazil this summer that will not be the case for many.

At Brazil '14 there will be as much attention off the pitch as on it. Protests against the hosting of the tournament and the misappropriation of public funds are set to be large, and there's no doubt that passions will once more run high.

It was the case at last summer's Confederations Cup, and with tensions already rising, there is nothing to suggest that this summer's tournament will provide any different a backdrop.

Eraldo Peres/Associated Press
Eraldo Peres/Associated Press

However, that is not to say that the population in general, or indeed many of those protesting, will not be supporting Brazil.

The Selecao became a beacon of hope last summer, harnessing the emotions in the country to sweep to an unexpected triumph. Many on the team even voiced support for the protests around them. Anger against the World Cup organisers and anger against the Selecao should not be confused.

The relationship between the Brazilian people and the Selecao is not what it once was, that much is clear. Players such as Garrincha and Pele were seen as icons of the masses and were accessible on almost a daily basis, playing for Botafogo and Santos respectively.

As brilliantly explained by ESPN FC's Roger Bennett, the reality is that this generation of the Brazil side is now seen as distant from the fans. Brazil's players are predominantly based in European football, and indeed the country's governing body, the CBF, trot them around the world for a host of money-spinning friendlies known as the "Brazil Global Tour."

In the piece, a fan is quoted as saying: "The Brazilian national team is beloved only among casual fans who don't follow football week in, week out."

It is a common quote, and fans at games of the national side tend to be from a loftier economic background than those who watch the likes of Vasco da Gama, Palmeiras, Atletico Mineiro and Bahia on a regular basis. Brazilian club football is, in general, not a place frequented by the middle classes.

There may not be the same affinity with the Selecao as there once was, as expressed through the readiness of the fans to turn on the players during poor performances, but an immense pride in Brazilian football remains.

Andre Penner/Associated Press

Defeat is treated as a disaster in Brazil, and never more so will that be the case than at this summer's competition on home soil. Being disenfranchised with the Selecao is one thing, but abandoning them completely is quite another.

It is a situation which which fans in England, for example, can empathise. Their allegiances to club sides may be far stronger than their love for the Three Lions, but come a major tournament patriotism takes over. For Brazil, that patriotism also comes with a prerequisite of success.

Handout/Getty Images

The final game of the 1950 World Cup, which became known as the Maracanazo, will be cited often this summer. Brazil lost to Uruguay on that occasion, surrendering the chance to seal a first World Cup title on home soil. Despite their previous lack of titles, it was a painful blow for a nation that had assumed world glory was theirs.

Many of the players never recovered in the eyes of the Brazilian public, and goalkeeper Barbosa was seen as the villain of the piece, having been fooled for Uruguay's title-winning goal. Forty-four years later, he was refused the right to visit the 1994 World Cup squad, as he was thought to bring bad luck. Perhaps nobody in football has suffered quite as much for one mistake.

However, the ghosts of the Maracanazo are not the factor that many may believe they are. To remember the 1950 World Cup you would now need to be in your 70s, and while younger Brazilians will know the story, it is rapidly losing its place in the national psyche. What was once seen as a major trauma is now largely dismissed by the younger generation.

A similar experience this time around, though, would doubtless see a similar backlash emerge, albeit one that would be unlikely to reach the same levels of individual blame. That said, Felipe Melo has never worn a Brazil shirt again since his red card at the 2010 competition was blamed for the Selecao's exit at the hands of Netherlands.

While the country's sky-high expectations bring retribution in the case of failure, they also allow for a tremendous release of tension in the case of success. World Cup winners from Pele to Kleberson are hailed for their role in title successes, regardless of careers since, which would once more be the case, especially with the tournament on home soil.

Michael Regan/Getty Images

Brazil's arrogance when it comes to expecting footballing success is remarkable. There may be justification for such feelings in their five previous title wins, but that is only five wins from 18 tournaments. Then again, perhaps it is such a demand for success that inspires their players to greater heights.

With passions set to be at fever pitch throughout the month ahead, a Brazil triumph would see an outpouring of emotion perhaps never before seen in a football tournament.

Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images

The 2014 World Cup is about so much more than a game to the people of Brazil, and those feelings would come flooding out in the event of success on home soil.

For the likes of Neymar and Oscar, there is enormous pressure to be dealt with. Seal World Cup glory at the Maracana on July 13, though, and their names will forever be etched deep into the history of Brazilian football.

There is no middle ground, but such extremes have inspired Brazil's biggest stars of the past. The 2014 generation must now take the stage.

Load More Stories

Out of Bounds

Brazil (National Football)

Subscribe Now

We will never share your email address

Thanks for signing up.