Rio Blues: After the World Cup Party, a Pall of Depression Descends on Brazil

Billions of people put their lives on hold for the Mundial - while in Gaza and Israel many were denied that right.

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A combination of pictures taken in Brazil on July 8, 2014 shows Brazilian supporters reacting during the semi-final match between Brazil and Germany.
A combination of pictures taken in Brazil on July 8, 2014 shows Brazilian supporters reacting during the semi-final match between Brazil and Germany.Credit: AFP

RIO DE JANEIRO - Rio has awoken this morning deflated but not defeated.

It feels like a post-World Cup depression has cloaked the air across Copacabana as locals rub their eyes to see no fiesta, no football, no international spotlight.

It seems like everyone's got the blues.

Mercifully for the Brazileiros, the blues is a state of mind and not the blue of Argentina.

And that, above all else, despite the crushing humiliation of its 7-1 defeat to Germany, represents a victory for Brazil, Pyrrhic or not.

For football is, to cite Bill Shankly's immortal words, not about life and death. It's more important than that.

Which is why Brazil exhaled a collective sigh of relief when Germany scored the winner in extra time yesterday.

The irony of a nation cheering the very players who put them so pitifully to the sword in the semis, was not lost on them.

But it mattered not a jot. What mattered most was that Argentina was denied a double victory – a World Cup and bragging rights with an infinite afterlife for winning on enemy soil.

But here's the rub: for these two warring nations, football is only partly about victory; it's mainly about history.

And so as Argentina comes to terms with defeat and Brazil with disaster, reality is inversed.

Brazil's disaster was sugar-coated after all. There was a sweet aftertaste watching their enemy in tears. From a balcony above Ipanema they sang to fans below, "Please cry for me Argentina."

Inside the Maracana, their bitter and twisted rivalry was distilled into a new song, one that, albeit briefly, united Latin American fans.

"1000 goals, 1000 goals, only Pele scored 1000 goals, while Maradona snorted cocaine."

Coined by Brazilian fans to remind their rivals that Pele remains the king, Maradona's worshippers chanted it at full pelt, with lashings of glee that it was they who had one hand on the cup.

Behind the Argentinean goal was a throng of fanatical fans waving blue and white flags. From my vantage point one stood out: it was blue and white but instead of the yellow Argentinean sun was the Star of David.

For a moment it dawned on me that a billion people or more had pressed pause on their lives to tune into the greatest show on Earth while in Israel and Palestine many had been robbed of that right, forced into bomb shelters on one side or bombed on the other.

If only Israelis and Palestinians fought instead on the football pitch. For more than a moment, it dawned on me that Bill Shankly was wrong after all.

In the end though, Argentinians may have invaded in their tens and hundreds of thousands but they did not occupy.

Their slow retreat south, across the majestic Iguazu Falls, has already begun.

Leo de Janeiro, it transpires, was nothing but a dream.

Unless you are from Germany, the reality here is that underneath the Brazilian relief there's a lingering sense of loss.

Today, whether you're Brazilian, Argentinean, or a lone Australian embarking on the long haul home, it's Rio de Janeiro blues.

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