"You cannot win all the time" - Ronaldinho
Rationalising defeat is as hopeless as trying to understand women. Gaping at the big screen on the banks of the Main in Frankfurt after the final whistle the idea of Brasil and loss began to slowly sink in. It dawned on me that it had been 16 years since I saw Brasil quit the tournament before the final match. 16 years since a drug laced Argentine squad had stolen a match from a vibrant Brasilian team and sent the selecao home prematurely while the coke-sniffing duo of Maradona and Caniggia would fight all the way to the final.
Since that sad June 1990 day I have been lucky enough to watch Brasil progress to the victorious final against Italy in 1994, the loss against France in 1998 and the victory against Germany in 2002. That's three world cups of magic that the selecao has given me. The selecao does not reach a World Cup final once every 12 years. It's been there more than any other team. As a supporter you feel a bit like Ronaldinho... for a team that is used to winning losing gets to be a bit difficult.
But even in losing, the torcida had lessons to teach the European tifosi (myself included). The Brasilians know how to throw a party. Before the match the electric atmosphere of Frankfurt was lit up to the beat of samba and the spirit of caipirinha. It was a unique experience of fun - harmless, sporting fun. The few blue fans who ventured in the moving sambadrome could only watch in awe at this mobile carnival and took photos with the Brasilian fans as though each one of them was a Ronaldo or a Ronaldinho. Because the Brasilian fans are the true stars. They are full of humour, they do not sing negative songs, they just celebrate life and football. As it is meant to be.
The loss on the pitch was deserved. 90 minutes without testing the bald bungler should have meant that - even if France did not find their goal from a free kick with Henry creeping behind the hapless defence - Brasil would deserve to go out on a points system. That was not the selecao. They found the first team that could defend against their onslaughts as high up as midfield and they failed to invent something new. For that they deserve to go home. Once again Brasil loses to France because it fails to turn up. Sorry for all the French fans out there but I still have to see France beat Brasil and not beat eleven ghosts on the pitch.
But that is football too. And the verdict is there. The boring French had their five minutes of exciting football. Zidane played like a God and he deserves a place in the last four. His supporting act was good - I still think that the French should not illude themselves... they did not play the world Champions on Saturday but a shadow. But as I said. They are still in Germany - Brasil is not.
And it was in the reaction to the result that the Brasilians could teach a thing or two to their European hosts (all of them... be they English, German, Italian or French). The dignity in the loss was incredible. They could still find the strength to wave their flags and sing along with the French who in the meantime were going berserk. Hearing (and understanding) the French taunts to the Brasilians I felt ashamed to be European. It's not as though there is some history of war or aggression between the two nations. The Brasilians only fault is that they are considered the best. So beating the Brasilians meant that insults and abuse about Brasil and its team could fly. Thank God the brasilians had no idea what the frogs were croaking about.
This World Cup for me has been more about the fans than the teams. The tifosi. And I guarantee you that following the Torcida for one day was a lesson in gentlemen's football.
There would be no arrests in Frnakfurt. Instead, after the obvious hour or so of recollection, the samba beat resumed to party through the night. They know that it is only a matter of time before they are at the top again. That is why they are team that plays football with the smile on their face. That is why they can take a loss with a dignity that is unheard of in Europe.
That is why that France or no France, Brasil remain the undisputed Kings of the Beautiful Game.