Brazil came so close to winning their first FIFA World Cup title in 1950. In the final group stage, they beat Sweden 7-1 and Spain 6-1 and needed only a draw against Uruguay in the “decisive match” to be crowned champions.
In the game against Uruguay, which was played at the Estádio do Maracanã in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Albino Friaça Cardoso opened scoring for Brazil but Juan Alberto Schiaffino equalized for Uruguay before Alcides Ghiggia scored a second goal to clinch the title for Uruguay.
It was a sad moment for the entire nation but Brazilian goalkeeper Moacir Barbosa was perhaps the biggest victim of the defeat.
Barbosa was considered one of the best goalkeepers of his era but that game against Uruguay changed a lot. He was blamed for Ghiggia’s goal, which caught him off guard, as he had expected the Uruguayan to cross the ball rather than shoot.
Barbosa was made the scapegoat after the defeat and it weighed his career down, as he reportedly didn’t get picked for the next couple of years.
He told a documentary that the saddest moment of his life was not Gigghia’s goal, but a comment he overheard at a market 20 years later. A woman pointed at him and said to the boy with her:
“Look at him, son. He is the man that made all of Brazil cry.”
He also said:
“If I didn’t learn to stop getting annoyed when people spoke of the goal, I’d be in jail or in the cemetery by now.
“People forget that in [the World Cups of] 1974 and 1978 there were worse humiliations. And what about the embarrassment of France in 1998? But people still prefer to talk about 1950.”
Even fellow professionals also found it hard to forgive him. In 1993, he visited Brazil’s training camp in preparation for the 1994 FIFA World Cup but was not permitted to meet the players. One of the coaches, Mário Zagallo, reportedly said that Barbosa might bring bad luck to the team.
In that same year 1993, the president of the Brazilian Football Confederation, Ricardo Teixeira, did not allow him to do commentary during the broadcast of one of Brazil’s international matches.
On his 79th birthday in the year 2000, he said:
“Under Brazilian law the maximum sentence is 30 years. But my imprisonment has been for 50 years.”
Later that year- on 7 April, he passed away as a result of a heart attack.