CHRISTIAN RADNEDGE in RIO DE JANEIRO: As Brazil fans gathered in their thousands in the official FIFA fan fest in Rio de Janeiro to watch the semi-final against Germany, storm clouds rolled in over Copacabana Beach.
Immediately before kick-off a clap of thunder boomed across the beach. It proved to be ominous.
Typical Brazilian buoyancy lasted for all of the 10 minutes until Thomas Muller gave Germany the lead in Belo Horizonte. Just 15 minutes and the score was 4-0 – the awestruck hush of the crowd turned to frustration with many venting their anger at the big screen which has SugarLoaf Mountain as its backdrop.
When Sami Khedira made it 5-0, fans began to leave the site in their droves. At half-time, many more followed them out of the exit. One fan, Ana, said “I’ve had enough. This is embarrassing for the whole country”.
Another fan, Chris, sought solace from the bar saying: “Five-nil? Seriously? I have to be drunk to accept this.”
Even fans looking for divine intervention may have been disappointed as when they looked to Christ the Redeemer, he was completely obscured by the clouds, the rain proving as obtrusive as the German attack.
The fan site kept visitors distracted with a number of attractions, such as the FIFA fan experience, the trophy experience, rides and sponsor-related entertainment.
But the second-half brought more misery as Andre Schurrle scored twice to take Germany’s tally to seven. By now though, the feeling of anger and frustration had turned into laughter at such an unbelievable situation.
Fans applauded Germany’s goal, recognising how efficiently their side had been demolished by Joachim Low’s team.
Much of the build-up to the tournament, and also last year’s FIFA Confederations Cup, had been beset by demonstrations and protests against the government and the cost of hosting the tournament.
Fears that a Brazil exit of the tournament would exacerbate those negative feelings were not immediately evident in and around the fan fest Fans left despondent yet humble in defeat.
Also, a heavy police presence lined the streets with patrol cars crawling up and down Atlantic Avenue.
The rain poured down after the full-time whistle, as if more than the whole country were crying.