Brazil’s Soccer Prowess Has Been Consumed by Years of Neglect


Brazil was defeated by Paraguay in the quarterfinals of the 2015 Copa América.

Yuri Cortez/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

BELO HORIZONTE, Brazil — Around here, they don’t talk about that night a whole lot anymore.

It’s a Saturday in the Mineirão, and a smattering of fans wander into a poorly attended top-flight club match inside the stadium where, nearly two years ago, Germany thrashed Brazil, 7-1, in the World Cup semifinals. That moment — one of the most remarkable games of soccer ever played, given the score, the setting and the subplots — once left mouths hanging open. These days, it is more likely to produce only a shrug.

It is not about humiliation; it is merely indifference. One of the many myths about Brazilian fans is that they love soccer. The reality is that they love winning, and they revere winning beautifully. But as their national team drifts relentlessly away from its glorious past, they have rarely been further from both of those things.

“The sport being bad here isn’t anything new,” said Tostão, a member of the country’s…

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