Rousseff urges unity after Brazil's World Cup shame

Rousseff urges unity after Brazil
# 10 July 2014 02:26 (UTC +04:00)

Rousseff admitted the result was more calamitous than she had expected, telling CNN’s Christiane Amanpour that even her "nightmares never got so bad."

She said: "As a supporter, of course, I am deeply sorry because I share the same sorrow of all supporters. But I also know that we are a country that has one very peculiar feature. We rise to the challenge in the face of adversity. We are able to overcome."

Rousseff’s comments have been widely interpreted as an attempt to minimize potential political fallout from the spectacular loss -- Brazil’s worst ever World Cup defeat.

She has hitched her fortunes firmly to the World Cup and despite violent protests and intense media scrutiny, the tournament had so far been a boon for the president, who stand for re-election in October.

The tournament has run smoother than many anticipated and had Brazil reached the final Rousseff’s popularity could have been expected to rise. A poll this month saw her share of the vote increase four percent compared to one conducted in June before the tournament started.

But last night everything changed as Germany tore through Brazil's weak and disorganized defense, scoring quickly and repeatedly.

"I knew it would be a tough game, but I felt totally deceived," said Abadias Edesio de Paiva, a 59-year-old chauffeur. "After the second and the third goals I lost all hope. I stopped supporting Brazil, and instead became ashamed of them."

Although life continued Wednesday, a strange atmosphere persisted in the capital, Brasilia. People seemed embarrassed, loath to make eye contact and gave sad half-shrugs when they did.

Many said they predicted the loss would damage Rousseff’s fragile recovery.

Lucio Claudio de Souza, 49, who runs a newspaper stand in Brasília, said: "Brazil has so many unresolved problems. And these problems were forgotten during the cup. Now, everyone will remember, and the election is very soon."

Brazil’s general elections coincide with the World Cup but, despite much analysis and speculation, previous results have not significantly affected elections, said João Castro Neves, senior Latin America analyst at the Eurasia Group, a research and consulting firm.

Neves said that while a loss of Tuesday’s magnitude was "uncharted territory," he believed it unlikely to significantly hurt Rousseff. "I don’t think it’s a long term impact," he told the Anadolu Agency. "I still think she is still the favorite and the greater risk for her is the economy."

Football writer Mauricio Savarese said the team’s performance was never the biggest risk to the president.

"What happens on the pitch will be linked to and blamed on the players and the coach, not to Dilma," Savarese said. "For Dilma’s popularity the most important thing was organization and that has been successful."

The elections are still three months away and campaigning only officially began this week. But some supporters of Rousseff are already shopping around.

"It’s not the football, but all the billions spent while we are lacking adequate security, while health services and schools are so bad," doorman Luciano de Oliveira, 27, said. Oliveira said he voted for Rousseff in 2010 and had been proud to do so. And now?

"I am considering other candidates," he admitted.