July 1, 2006

Brazil gripped by sadness after World Cup loss

By Terry Wade

SAO PAULO, Brazil (Reuters) - Tears flowed as
disappointment gripped Brazil on Saturday after its
star-studded World Cup soccer team suffered a stinging 1-0
defeat to France, ending its hopes of a sixth championship.

"This was the worst thing that could have happened -- to
lose to France again," said Fabio Santos, 39, a fan in Sao

Brazil, which won the previous World Cup championship in
2002, and is the only country to have won five World Cup
titles, considers itself a global soccer superpower.

But it lost to France in the 1998 World Cup final and many
Brazilians had prayed their team would not be jinxed again on

Brazil's team struggled to find its rhythm and a tough
French defense quieted Brazilian strikers.

"We're stranded here crying, feeling enormous frustration,"
said Ricardo Santos, one of the organizers of the cheering
section on a Rio de Janeiro street where some 10,000 people
watched the game.

Nearby, Julio Gomes, a 30-year-old bank employee, held his
weeping girlfriend.

Many Brazilian fans blamed the coach, Carlos Alberto
Parreira, for not playing more of his young reserve players
once it became clear the veteran squad was producing few

"Parreira is crazy," said Pepe Roberto, 46, a fan in Sao

In Rio de Janeiro, the gymnasium of a top Carnival samba
school, where thousands of people had gathered to watch the
game on giant screens, emptied within minutes of the final
whistle. Many fans were tearful.

Fans thought Parreira should have used younger players like
Robinho and Cicinho from the start.

"The only time the team played really well was against
Japan with these (young) players, but no, Parreira had to go
back to the old scheme," said Aldo Santos, a doorman who
watched the game on a small black-and-white TV.

Despite the sadness, some Brazilians vowed to keep their
barbecues and parties going all night.

With tears in their eyes, about 2,000 residents of Recife
in northeastern Brazil danced and sang the hymn of Brazil's
fans -- "I am Brazilian and I am very proud."

(Additional reporting by Andrei Khalip and Pedro Fonseca in
Rio de Janeiro)