Feature: Uruguay, Brazil, and the ghosts of 1950

“On July 16, the day of the game, Rio newspaper O Mundo carried the headline “THESE ARE THE WORLD CHAMPIONS!” alongside a picture of the team, and an estimated 200,000 fans streamed into the giant concrete arena in anticipation of Brazil’s coronation. Opponents Uruguay, narrow victors over Sweden in their previous game, were offered up as the sacrificial victims and they seemed destined to fulfil that role when Friaça put Brazil ahead early in the second half. Juan Alberto Schiaffino equalised, but Brazil remained on course for the trophy until Uruguay winger Alcides Ghiggia surprised goalkeeper Moacir Barbosa with a low shot in the 79th minute that stunned the stadium. “Only three people have ever silenced 200,000 people at the Maracanã with a single gesture,” Ghiggia once said. “Frank Sinatra, Pope John Paul II, and I.””

I’ve written a piece for AFP on the Maracanazo, and you can read it here.

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