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World Cup 2014 | Brazil Wins Opening Match Against Croatia After Controversial Referee Decision

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Posted June 13, 2014 by Ugandan Diaspora News Team in World Cup ~ 1,725 views

     

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SÃO PAULO, Brazil — It was Dia dos Namorados on Thursday, the Brazilian equivalent of Valentine’s Day, which meant there were chocolates and flowers and couples holding hands tucked among the sea of yellow jerseys that stretched from the Itaquera neighborhood over to Jardins. From sunrise all the way until the shimmering moon peeked above the skyline, Brazilians showed their passion for one another, and for soccer, as the World Cup began.

But love — in any form — is a complicated matter. While there were moments of heat and adoration, particularly when Neymar scored the first of his two goals with a shot that bounced in off the post, Brazil’s 3-1 victory over Croatia hardly made for the perfect date. Inside and outside Arena Corinthians, emotions were mixed even before a referee’s decision in favor of Brazil plunged the tournament into controversy in the first game.

That controversy figures to linger, too. Fuming after the game, Niko Kovac, Croatia’s coach, all but accused the referee, Yuichi Nishimura of Japan, of favoring the home team when he awarded a penalty kick to Brazil that led to the decisive goal.

Kovac was livid because replays showed that Fred, a Brazilian forward, fell theatrically to the ground, with little contact from a Croatian defender. With all the attention that has been paid to how Brazil’s performance in the tournament will reverberate throughout the country, Kovac indicated that he felt referees might be influenced.

“It has to do with playing here in Brazil,” Kovac said. “I think Brazil does not need any help from referees.”

He added that the decision was “ridiculous” and said, “If we continue in this vein, there will be 100 penalties in this World Cup.”

His comments were, in many ways, a fitting end to a strange day that began with the police using tear gas and rubber bullets on protesters near a downtown subway station, casting a pall that will almost certainly linger as demonstrations over the Cup continue over the next month.

At the stadium, workers hurried to finish construction as recently as Wednesday, and there were several hiccups during the opener, with chairs seeming to be missing in a few areas (fans sat on concrete) and a bank of floodlights temporarily going out during the first half. Even the pregame release of three doves, designed to be a gesture of peace, did not come off perfectly: One of the birds appeared to immediately crash into the stands.

All of that, though, may inspire less immediate angst than the home team’s inconsistent performance. Soccer is sacred here, and it is not so much pressure that fans put on the Brazilian players as it is an ultimatum: Win or be ridiculed.

Luiz Felipe Scolari, the Brazilian coach, has not shied from the expectations of a title, but he has also said that he will not be bothered by the typical Brazilian requirement of winning with style. Although grinding performances are anathema for Brazilian fans, Scolari, knowing the stakes, has said he is only interested in results. From that perspective, he was pleased with Thursday’s outcome.

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Brazil actually fell behind early when Marcelo turned the ball into his own net in the 11th minute, after Ivica Olic had sprinted down the left side and sent a dangerous cross in front of the goal.

Marcelo, who was retreating, basically ran the ball into his own net. Most in the announced crowd of 62,103 stood in stunned silence and then began booing and whistling angrily, having witnessed Brazil’s first own goal in World Cup history.

Source — The New York Times


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Ugandan Diaspora News Team

Ugandan Diaspora News Online is an independent, non political news portal primarily aimed at serving Ugandans who work and reside outside Uganda. Our aim is to be a one stop shop for everything Ugandan and the celebration of our Ugandan heritage.

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