Riot police descended on Copacabana beach in Rio de Janeiro after Brazil were hurled out of the World Cup in disgrace with a 7-1 defeat to Germany.
Chaos in Rio
The divide between the glorious splendour of Belo Horizonte and the abject poverty on the streets of Brazil has been one of the most telling images of the World Cup.
On Tuesday night, chaos arrived, as the party came to an abrupt end for Luiz Felipe Scolari’s side. That party had been allowed to continue as long as Brazil’s heroes were fulfilling their dreams on the pitch, but a performance that saw the hosts 5-0 down at half time was only going to have one consequence outside of the stadium.
Inside it, a sea of yellow and green shirts and scarves – worthy of an old-fashioned Manchester United anti-Glazer protest – sank back into their seats and watched Germany destroy their World Cup, albeit one that had been all wrong from the start.
Lack of spending
Even success was not going to cover up the Brazilian government’s lack of spending on education and health which facilitated the tournament’s going ahead. Violence has been going on sporadically since the opening ceremony, but the weak-willed nature of Brazil’s exit aroused a further sense of betrayal, as gangs looted and rioted.
There were also some reports of gunfire on Copacabana beach in what was believed to be an armed robbery. Paris Saint-Germain defender and captain on the night, David Luiz apologised for his personal performance, but he was one of many players that walked off the pitch to a chorus of jeers from an understandably disgruntled fan base.
German fans rejoice
Unsurprisingly, Germany was a very different scene: one live screening in Berlin is reported to have run out of fireworks by the seventh goal, such was the excitement at their triumphant march to the final.
Brazil already thought themselves up against it prior to kick-off, having lost Neymar to a back injury in the quarter-final against Colombia. However, it was their defence that was lacking, as fears that they would crack under pressure proved wise.
The pressure could not break past Germany’s solid organization, though. Despite putting in quite possibly the most spectacular performance ever seen in a World Cup semi-final, Joachim Low’s side made it look effortless as they glided through Brazil’s backline.
There will be no let-up for Brazil, who will play host to the Olympics in two years’ time. Regardless of the show they have put on, if their World Cup is remembered as a failure, the wisdom of hosting another extraordinarily expensive sporting event will surely be questioned.