Daniela Paiva, a Brazilian journalist shocked her friends at her decision to come to London to study and work for EastLondonLines during the country’s World Cup. Here, she describes her emotions as she watched Brazil’s historic 7-1 defeat to Germany in the semi-final on Tuesday night.
I arrived at The Alma, in Newington Green, at the end of the first half of the match. It took me a while to understand what was going on.
About three months ago I decided to leave Sao Paolo, where I had been living since 2009, and come to the UK to attend a summer course.
Everybody – I mean EVERYBODY – asked me why I was going to leave Brazil during the World Cup. This is a nation with football in its blood and grew up with Brazil and the World Cup.
I was born in Brasilia. I was too young to understand very well, but suffered the 1982 failure to make the knock-out rounds despite having one of the most charismatic players of all time, Zico. I was a teenager when we won the Cup in 1994, and partied like one. And in 2002 I enjoyed Brazil`s victory in Japan by all means possible.
In the lead up to this competition, of course things were tense and the whole population had mixed feelings about it. Riots across the country, people rejecting the Cup because of corruption during the preparations, a team that was not raising hope and confidence or overcoming all challengers, as they were meant to do.
But at the last minute, what we were all actually expecting happened – the country got into the game.
So why the hell would I come here at this big moment for my country?
The World Cup was important, and from a journalist’s perspective covering it would be a historical mark. But at the moment, my own next game is more important than the one that has all my friends and colleagues excited.
And now, suddenly here I was, in London, watching the Cup from another side of the world, silently.
I didn`t look for other Brazilians to cheer alongside. Being Brazilian, it was kind of a secret that I would reveal just when I wanted to steal a smile. “Hey, I`m Brazilian”. That would open a friendly conversation about the World Cup, the matches, the daily life and the real truth behind the headlines.
When you are in a foreign country, and something like this is happening in your home town, you are hit by a sense of pride. Even away, you are part of something bigger.
In the hotel bar, the barman was starting to get on my nerves by ignoring me for whatever reason. As soon as I asked him to turn on the TV for Brazil`s match, he changed completely. Then, everytime I would sit in the bar, he would come up to me with a warm smile and talk about the games and how he was cheering for Brazil, specially after England`s lost. He would greet me:”Hey, here comes the Brazilian”. “Yeah”.
Yesterday, I was ill with a flu and a bit worried about other things besides the match. I guess me and everybody else in Brazil knew the match would be tough, but nobody was too worried – or worried enough worried, I would say now.
In a way, there was a belief the injury to our star player Neymar had brought us even more together. Even the critics on Facebook that had been so excited about being… welll… Facebook critics, laid down their hate to cheer. The team would have to be superior, would have to prove itself. And that was it.
As an average Brazilian that always leave everything for the last minute, a few hours before the match I started to get nervous. I couldn`t put my anxiety into words.
After my evening class finished, I rushed to the pub and discovered that Brazil were losing by 4 goals. It took me a while to focus. It was like I had gone into a really weird dimension.
Instead of catching up with my Brazilian friend I had not seen since last year, we entered a place of quietness and unbelievable feelings. A zombie land with yellow shirts, heads down and opened mouths.
My groups on Whatsapp, which have been filled with different messages since I got here – from the World Cup games to daily gossip – went quiet. I sent a couple messages asking people what was going on. Nobody answered. Not a word.
At the pub, people were laughing, making fun of the desperate faces of the Brazil team in the field, cheering for Germany. I could not blame them, I could not argue, and oddly enough I did not feel shame. I just felt a sadness overwhelm us.
We did not stop watching the match. Neither did we change the subject. We stood there. In sadness.
For a country that struggled so much with the beliefs and hopes for the World Cup, it’s hard to explain what it felt like. And what it still feels like.
I’ve been reading different theories and points of view about the game. I’ve been blaming the coach, Fifa, Ronaldo, Mick Jagger…
But the truth is that it’s not hard, it’s IMPOSSIBLE to explain the score. 7 x 1. Seven. S-e-v-e-n.
Today is the hangover after a night that people probably drowned their sorrow in whatever had alcohol in. Thte same feeling you have when someone abandons you. Bring me a scotch, double, please. And a little napkin to cry on it.
And there is no cure for it. It will not be better tomorrow or even if Brazil win on Saturday. And the word that goes around is not sadness. It’s depression.
Nobody knows what is worst – Argentina, our historical enemy, winning the World Cup, or competing for the third place against us.
Someone on the BBC said that, despite the outcome of the match, Brazil has delivered the best World Cup ever in terms of drama. I would say: for whom? This drama is not fun to watch. Or to be a part of it. At all.