Samba stops, Kolkata mourns

Kolkata’s football fraternity reacted with stunned disbelief.

Written by Shamik Chakrabarty | Kolkata | Published: July 10, 2014 4:15:49 am
Heartbroken Brazil fans in Kolkata mourn Selecao’s World Cup defeat. ( Source: Express photo by Subham Dutta ) Heartbroken Brazil fans in Kolkata mourn Selecao’s World Cup defeat. ( Source: Express photo by Subham Dutta )

The party stopped abruptly Tuesday night and a requiem began. As Joachim Loew’s excellent German team taught the World Cup hosts a football lesson at Estadio Mineirao, the football loving city of Kolkata, with its pockets of strong Brazillian supporters, mourned.

Football fans in Kolkata often swear by “jogo bonito” — Brazil’s beautiful game. They adore the men in canary yellow. Almost all the lanes and localities in the city was covered with Brazil national flags and cut-outs and posters of top stars put up long before the World Cup started. The flags now hang limp.

Kolkata’s football fraternity reacted with stunned disbelief. Odivan is a 35-year-old Brazilian who has been working in the city as a football coach for the last eight years. He arranges community viewing of Brazil’s World Cup matches at Sherwood Estate where he has a flat.

“Yesterday there were about 12-13 of us who watched the game together. My Brazilian friends were joined by local supporters and in the end, we all were pretty numb. It was inexplicable…absolutely unbelievable,” he told The Indian Express.

“There’s no shame in losing to Germany. They’re a great team. But conceding seven goals in our own lair – it’s painful. And if only Neymar’s absence had made the team panic-stricken, then god help Brazil football,” he added.

The humiliation, however, will not prevent Odivan from watching the rest of the ournament. “I will watch the other semi-final and also the final. We will now support Holland, for it would be very hard for us to accept an Argentine triumph at Maracana.”

Terence Mandel is a local youth who’s currently organising a World Cup fan park at EDF ground near Jodhphpur Park in south Kolkata. He also leads the Brazil fan forum in Kolkata. “About 3,500 fans turned up at the park last night and more than 2,500 of them were supporting Brazil. For us, the seasoned observers, the only surprise element was in the margin of defeat, because this has been a very weak Brazil team – probably the weakest since 1974. But what happened was unthinkable,” he said.

Brazil boss Luiz Felipe Scolari asked for “forgiveness” following the rout. Will Mandel and his fellow Brazil die-hards show mercy?

“There are two sides. We won the World Cup under him. So there will always be a sympathy factor. This time, however, he messed up big time with his team selection and formation. He didn’t pick Kaka and played Oscar out of position. And not only Scolari, all the Brazilian coaches who were in charge over the past two decades have brought in an element of cynicism in Brazilian football. Brazil no longer play like Brazil. They rather try to copy the European giants. Little wonder that a lot of fans here have been deserting them,” observed Mandel.

Jose Barreto, the Brazilian footballer who became a Mohun Bagan legend in Kolkata, tried to put things in perspective. “See, I’m a footballer and football can be cruel at times. It was the worst day for Brazilian football and we lost badly because Germany outclassed us in every department. But this is a very young team and the boys will regroup,” Barreto said.

“I believe there would be a change of guard after this and someone like Jurgen Klinsmann should come in,” said teh Brazillian footballer.

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