Brazil learns re­venge is best served gold

The Myanmar Times - - Sport -

NERVES were fray­ing on Rio streets be­fore kick­off of Au­gust 20’s Olympic men’s soc­cer gold medal game be­tween Brazil and Ger­many. That was not only be­cause the hosts have never won an Olympic foot­ball ti­tle de­spite hav­ing won five World Cups. It was be­cause Brazil needed to erase bit­ter mem­o­ries of the ‘’Sete à Um” – or “Seven One” – the crush­ing 7-1 de­feat Ger­many dealt Brazil in the 2014 World Cup semi­fi­nals, also hosted by Brazil.

Brazil was sup­posed to win that game and then cap­ture a sixth World Cup. Since then the crush­ing hu­mil­i­a­tion has taken on a his­tor­i­cal sig­nif­i­cance for this foot­ball­mad na­tion of 200 mil­lion peo­ple, as if it were a lost bat­tle in a war, not a foot­ball match.

That’s how se­ri­ously Brazil­ians take foot­ball.

“It was so fa­tal. We still haven’t re­cov­ered,” said Lorena Coutinho, 51, a guest-house owner, don­ning a track­suit top in the Brazil colours and crammed into a neigh­bor­hood bar in Rio’s colonial Santa Teresa neigh­bor­hood called the Ar­mazem São Thi­ago. This tiled-floor, street­corner saloon, known by lo­cals as the Bar do Gomez, was show­ing the game on a big screen.

The phrase “Sete à Um” has en­tered the na­tional lex­i­con and is used to re­fer to any­thing from poor eco­nomic per­for­mances to mak­ing jokes. Some ar­gue it rep­re­sents a point at which Brazil re­alised it was go­ing to have to learn a few lessons from the bet­ter-or­gan­ised and -pre­pared Ger­man team in­stead of re­ly­ing on the tra­di­tional last-minute cre­ativ­ity and im­pro­vi­sa­tion to get by.

This was a fluid, fast game from the start. But the ten­sion was pal­pa­ble. A woman tweet­ing as Ananda shared com­ments from Brazil­ians call­ing on Je­sus Christ and My Loved Father as the ten­sion rose.

“No­body is an athe­ist in the Brazil v Ger­many game,” she wrote.

Olympic foot­ball rules mean that each team is com­posed of un­der-23 play­ers plus three ex­cep­tions – which meant Ney­mar, the Brazil­ian at­tacker who plays pro­fes­sion­ally along­side Lionel Messi and Luis Suarez for Barcelona, was on the team. He sat out that 2014 semi­fi­nal be­cause of in­jury – and Brazil’s loss was blamed in part on his ab­sence.

Ney­mar scored the first goal in this week­end’s fi­nal on a 30-yard free kick, curl­ing in an el­e­gant arc of a shot just be­low the cross­bar. The Bar do Gomez erupted in cheers. “Woo-hooooh!” Coutinho yelled with a huge grin. Ney­mar cel­e­brated with Usain Bolt’s light­ning-bolt sa­lute. Bolt him­self was in the Mara­cana crowd.

Be­hind the bar at Gomez, one of the kitchen staff had pushed half of his body through the serv­ing hatch to watch. Brazil goalie Wev­er­ton made a low, diving save af­ter 31 min­utes. Ger­many hit the bar with a spin­ning header. The half ended with Brazil ahead. The crowd, which had spread onto the street out­side, or­dered more beers and ex­haled.

Af­ter Brazil’s men’s team started their Olympic cam­paign badly, a bet­ter per­for­mance by the women’s team stole their thun­der – and jokes re­bounded about how vet­eran striker Marta de­liv­er­ing what Ney­mar was fail­ing to do. But the women’s team failed to make the fi­nal and lost the bronze-medal game to Canada. And Brazil­ian men be­gan to crow.

“If the men’s team win the gold medal, it’s go­ing to be re­ally crazy, be­cause ev­ery­one was putting faith in the fe­male team,” tweeted a woman called Kell.

The cel­e­bra­tions did not last. Ger­many’s Max Meyer sliced in a goal from the edge of the box. And a sense of ner­vous­ness took over the bar as re­venge slipped away.

“I hope it doesn’t go to penal­ties,” said Kerry Ni­cholas, 54, a Bri­tish tourist who said she was “def­i­nitely sup­port­ing Brazil”.

To Brazil’s agony, it did. Coutinho was crunched up with ten­sion. “I need a doc­tor!” she cried, on her way to the bath­room.

When Brazil scored its first penalty kick, the bar broke into a chant of “Te­mer Out!” - the mes­sage aimed at Brazil’s un­pop­u­lar in­terim Pres­i­dent Michel Te­mer, who has re­placed pres­i­dent Dilma Rouss­eff while she faces im­peach­ment. The fi­nal shot fell to Ney­mar, as he stepped up for the last penalty kick, when a goal would mean gold. He ran to­ward the ball, pulled back, shot – and scored. Up­roar. Screams. Shouts. Roars. And per­haps a sigh of re­lief for or­gan­is­ers and Brazil­ian politi­cians, be­cause these Olympics have not en­joyed wide­spread sup­port and a gold medal for Brazil’s fa­vorite sport gives them wel­come shine.

But the shine likely won’t lighten the low ap­peal of Brazil’s in­terim pres­i­dent. The Bar do Gomez broke out into yet an­other chant. And it wasn’t for Ney­mar. It was “Te­mer out!” – The Wash­ing­ton Post

Fol­low­ing the in­tro­duc­tion of those rules, Se­menya’s times slipped, with many as­sum­ing she was tak­ing med­i­ca­tion to keep her testos­terone lev­els within ac­cept­able lim­its.

She was still good enough to take sil­ver be­hind Savi­nova in Lon­don how­ever. The Rus­sian is fac­ing a life­time ban from the sport af­ter ev­i­dence im­pli­cat­ing her in dop­ing.

And when the Court of Ar­bi­tra­tion for Sport ruled the In­ter­na­tional As­so­ci­a­tion of Ath­let­ics Fed­er­a­tions (IAAF) re­stric­tions il­le­gal, Se­menya was free to com­pete in her nat­u­ral state.

Hours be­fore Satur­day’s fi­nal, IAAF chief Se­bas­tian Coe in­di­cated the world body would seek to re­visit the is­sue in fu­ture.

Se­menya how­ever would not be drawn on the is­sue.

“Tonight is all about per­for­mances,” she said. “We’re not here to talk about the IAAF. We’re not here to talk about spec­u­la­tions.

“We’re here to talk about the 800m that we ran to­day.”

Se­menya never looked in trou­ble in Satur­day’s fi­nal, bid­ing her time af­ter a 57.59sec open­ing lap.

Niyon­s­aba hit the front with around 300m to go but Se­menya was al­ways within strik­ing dis­tance.

With 150m left she made her move, calmly ac­cel­er­at­ing clear to take the lead. –

Brazil’s for­ward Ney­mar scores the win­ning goal past Ger­many’s goal­keeper Timo Horn.

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