15

An oft-repeated claim about the Uruguay v Brazil 1950 World Cup match is that upon the blowing of the final whistle, several Brazilian fans took their own lives inside the stadium.

The LA Times says that "[a]t the final whistle one distraught fan committed suicide while three others suffered fatal heart attacks"; Wikipedia says that "[a]t least two Brazilian fans committed suicide inside the stadium and many suicides were reported across the country in the following days", citing a WorldSoccerTalk article. However, neither of these articles reference any sources, or explain where they got this information from.

The only place I found that lists a source for the suicide claim is Matthew Schorr's Soccer Politics article, which refers to a 2010 article which is no longer accessible, even on the Wayback Machine.

So, is there any evidence that Brazilian football fans completed suicide inside the stadium after the match?

4
  • 7
    The claim is certainly older than 2010. I've found a 2009 research article that quotes The Times from July 15, 1966: "Brazil is the most fanatical nation of football supporters: Brazilians committed suicide over their team’s defeat by Uruguay in 1950". However, as the newspaper article is from 16 years after the finals and may itself be based just rumors (despite being published in a highly respected newspaper), I wouldn't consider it very strong evidence (which is also why I don't think this find is good enough for a proper answer).
    – Schmuddi
    Nov 28, 2022 at 18:06
  • 1
    Brazilians committed suicide over their team’s defeat by Uruguay in 1950 -- but the question is about whether "Brazilian football fans committed suicide inside the stadium after the match"
    – user62611
    Dec 1, 2022 at 3:30
  • @user24096: Good point – somehow I missed in my comment that the question explicitly states "inside the stadium" both in the title and in the question body
    – Schmuddi
    Dec 1, 2022 at 6:13
  • Please follow site guidelines on discussing suicide.
    – Oddthinking
    Dec 4, 2022 at 4:19

1 Answer 1

9

This is probably false.

The event, known as the "Maracanazo", happened on July 16, 1950.

Some of the Brazilian main newspapers at time are still active and keep their archives available online. They reported some incidents with the fans on the next day's editions, but no completed suicides, let alone deaths by suicide inside the stadium:

  • Folha de São Paulo reported 8 deaths, and highlighted 3 had been caused by "emotion". Unfortunately, the text of that news is deteriorated and cannot be read, but it's safe to assume no completed suicides happened, since it would be worthy to be put in the title. On the 18, they reported a murder after a fight over the match, but again, no mentions of any deaths by suicide.

  • O Estado de S. Paulo reported 169 injured people, victims of "run-overs, falls and other accidents". Again, no mention to any deaths by suicide.

  • O Globo reported the same figure of 169 injured, and featured a "dead by emotion". They even went as far as reporting the name and address of every single injured/dead. O Globo is based in Rio de Janeiro, the city were the match took place, so I would assume they were in the best position compared to the previous sources. They never mentioned a death by suicide.

One interesting thing is that the alleged deaths by suicide are barely mentioned by Brazilian press when talking about the Maracanazo. One of the few Brazilian articles mentioning it quotes a journalist dismissing it as rumor:

"Many players left the field crying [...] It was a great trauma. There were stories about suicides too, but none were confirmed."

Finally, the source in Soccer Politics is not very promising. It was authored by Continental AG, a German automotive parts company. Whatever the reason they had to write about the 1950 World Cup, I speculate they simply repeated the same rumors.

2
  • 1
    Is there any chance that "death by emotion" is a euphemism for suicide in (Brazilian) Portuguese?
    – Schmuddi
    Dec 4, 2022 at 22:06
  • 2
    @Schmuddi No. It means sudden death after some very emotional event for the victim. People will usually consider it a heart attack.
    – sourcream
    Dec 4, 2022 at 22:37

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .