Entire federation needs new people and ideas
14 July ~ The immediate response was every bit as memorable as the shock and awe that sparked it. Shame, disgrace, humiliation howled the front cover of the Rio daily O Globo in the wake of Brazil's staggering 7-1 defeat to Germany. Those sentiments were echoed in bars and living rooms throughout the country as a nation struggled to recover its breath, let alone make sense of the carnage. Another daily, Folha de São Paulo, called it the "Mineiraço", a none-too-pointed reference to the Seleção's 1950 defeat to Uruguay.
While the circumstances may not map perfectly – the defeat 64 years ago was most notable for the rampant hubris that preceded the heartbreak – it did not feel like an overreaction. Losing a World Cup semi-final is one thing. But on home soil? By six goals? Not even in their worst nightmares could Brazilians have conjured such a scene.
No one involved in the campaign was safe from criticism in the days that followed. O Globo awarded every single player zero out of ten, peppering the ratings with one-word summaries of their performances: "Buried... demolished... weak... irrelevant." Technical assistant Carlos Alberto Parreira opted for bullishness, defending the work of the coaching staff, but came off as delusional. Some even seized on the opportunity to send out viral jokes seeking to undermine president Dilma Rousseff.
Luiz Felipe Scolari today resigned, becoming the first victim of the inquest. His fatherly trust in his players – seen as such a boon after the Confederations Cup – ended up blinding him to the shortcomings of his squad. There were errors both in selection (Miranda and Filipe Luís must have been flabbergasted not to receive the call) and in tactics, with Scolari's side unable to exert any control whatsoever in midfield. Neymar papered over a few of the cracks but they proved too deep to hide against a top-level team.
Really, though, Scolari was just a figurehead for the real villains of Brazilian football, who hide in the shadows when the going gets tough. Consider federation chief José Maria Marin, so happy to bask in the PR glow before the tournament (sample quote: "We will all go to hell if we don't win") but so notable by his silence now. He is just the latest of the nefarious old men – see also: João Havelange and Ricardo Teixeira, who have long since traded in Brazil's footballing identity for favours, advertising money and political clout.
Marin will leave his post soon but his replacement, Marco Polo Del Nero, is no better. Only when these skeletons are properly exhumed will the Seleção start to return to what it once was, as Folha columnist Paulo Vinicius Coelho noted on Sunday: "Brazilian football has not come to an end. But we need to make sure the scars of this tournament help us in 2018. For that to happen, we need to think, find new ideas." Two-hundred million of his countrymen will be crossing their fingers in the coming months and years. Jack Lang