Brazil, Kramer and bad memory

If there is one word capable of summarizing the 2014 World Cup, the second in history played in Brazil, it is certainly forgetfulness. In fact, there are many institutions and personalities who during the festival – but also in the approach phase to it – have shown an incredible ability to forget what should have been well kept in mind. The first to emerge in this review of negligence were the organizers, who did not at all treasure the controversy following the shameful practice of evictions applied four years earlier in South Africa, when to make room for the construction of stadiums, hotels and roads – but also to hide beggars, misery and slums from the eyes of the world – entire neighborhoods were swept away by brute force, forcing many people to abandon their homes in exchange for not better accommodations and ridiculous and often never even seen compensation. Fortunately, the new means of communication no longer allow us to hide what could be embarrassing, and in fact what happened in South African cities – widely documented – went around the world causing indignation. Fifa, which for years had been repeating that the World Cup would be for the country only a harbinger of well-being and opportunities for relaunch, in the face of reality was forced to admit that the work of the organizers was reprehensible and to promise that in the future it would ensure that its local partners followed essential ethical principles. Hot air: in Brazil, history repeated itself slavishly and at least 170,000 poor people were thrown out of the house to clear the stage of what could have shamed the authorities.

Cathedrals in the desert and beers

But also with regard to other aspects, politicians and building owners – often synonyms – turned out to be of very short memory and, taken from pecuniary fregola, they threw themselves into the construction of the classic cathedrals in the desert, even if in this case they were located, instead of in the sands of the Sahara , in the middle of the rainforest. We are talking about the very expensive and largely useless stadiums built for the tournament, many of them only for a couple of games. The most sensational case concerns the Arena da Amazonia, built in Manaus, a city of the jungle whose most prestigious team plays between the fourth and fifth divisions. The running costs of such a stadium would be difficult even for Real Madrid to bear, let alone Manaus’ Nacional Futebol Clube. Result: the work was soon condemned to decay. The same fate is that of the Pantanal Arena in Cuiabà, in Mato Grosso, unused and has become a refuge for the homeless. Not very different is what happened in Recife, Natal and Belo Horizonte, where the stadiums of the Mundial – often located far from the cities – have not hosted football matches for a long time. In fact, the clubs have preferred to return to play in the old facilities, more convenient to reach and with affordable management costs, leaving only weddings and confirmations to take place in the new arenas. In the past, the organizers of Brazil 2014 would have found many examples not to be copied, yet someone found it convenient to squander disproportionate sums, especially for a country with a very high poverty rate. The legislators also seemed great forgetfuls, who after having promulgated and applied for ten years the law banning the sale of alcohol in stadiums – accidents and violence related to it had become a real scourge – took a step back and took away their word. and playing their face when they bowed to the dynamics of the market. Budweiser had in fact already been a partner of Fifa for many years and banning alcohol in the stands would not even have been conceivable. So they went back to the Constitution, which was amended for the month of the tournament, during which it was again possible to take a shot in the corners thanks to what went down in history simply as the Budweiser Law.

Déja vu

The Brazilian press also seemed prey to oblivion, which as in 1950 – when the first World Cup was played there – did not hesitate to proclaim the hosts as Cup winners even before taking the field, with the result of seeing a tragic story repeat itself. If the first time to turn the dream into a nightmare was Uruguay by beating the Brazilians 2-1 in the last match of the event – the famous Maracanazo – this time it was Germany who threw the whole country into psychodrama, who overcame the National host even 7-1 (Mineirazo), a result that allowed the losers to beat an infinite number of records, obviously all negative. And lacking in the field of memory were inevitably the same green-gold players, who came to the competition with the Germans forgetting that they had landed there without shining and benefiting from frequent referee aids and strokes of luck. Perhaps they believed that to defeat the Mannschaft it was enough to cry out loud and scream out loud during the performance of the national anthem, spreading salts and tears everywhere. They simply forgot that they faced an opponent who had no intention of playing the sacrificial victim in the staging of the local festival. And in fact, after less than half an hour of play the Germans were ahead 5-0, incredulous that they were dealing with rivals clearly under the influence of drugs not yet classified.

Victims of forgetfulness were to a certain extent also the Spanish reigning champions, who did not want to pay attention to the lightness shown by the Italians four years earlier when, thanks to the success achieved in the previous edition, they presented themselves to the World Cup with sufficiency and underestimating their opponents, ending up suffering memorable scoppole that cost them the shame of a sensational elimination already in the first round. But even worse than the Iberians were able to do the same blues, who ran into premature failure twice in a row, in 2010 and 2014. To the Italians it seemed a negative record that could never have been worsened, without even remotely imagining which others – and more large – disappointments would have experienced in the following years: twice, in fact, they did not even manage to qualify for the World Cup: Sweden and North Macedonia the names of the teams that cost the Belpaese the double worst shame in its football history.

Unknowing champion

The authentic Oscar for forgetfulness 2014, however, must be awarded to someone who was not to blame for his loss of memory – unlike all the distracted people mentioned so far. We are talking about the German footballer Christoph Kramer, a bench with the good fortune to be deployed at the very final thanks to the unavailability of Khedira, injured during the warm-up. Hit in the head involuntarily – but very hard – by a shoulder from the Argentine Garay, the Gladbach midfielder remains on the ground for a few minutes. Apparently recovered from the blow, from the German medical staff he receives the ok to resume playing, and so he gets back on the field. Kramer, however, is still frighteningly groggy, so much so that he approaches the referee, the Italian Rizzoli, to ask him a couple of times if what he was playing was really the World Cup final. Realized that something in the boy’s head was not working properly, the race director ordered the bench to replace him and have him inspected for good. The result was a head injury so serious that it left a hole in Kramer’s memory that will never be filled again. Christoph became world champion that evening at the Maracana, but he still remembers nothing of the final today. The injury, which had no further consequences, did not prevent him from continuing his all in all modest career. And above all it did not take away his good humor: on his social network stands a photo that portrays him with the most coveted trophy accompanied by an amazing caption: “unvergessen, unforgotten”.

This is the penultimate episode of a series dedicated to the history of the World Cup that will accompany us until the immediate eve of Qatar 2022.

Brazil, Kramer and bad memory