At the FIFA World Cup in 1950, England were expected to be a real force, if not win the entire thing. The United States of America, meanwhile, were justifiably unfancied. Plucked from around the country’s amateur ranks and assembled at a relatively late stage, the USA’s team headed for Brazil to no fanfare whatsoever back home. One goal from Haitian Joe Gaetjens later, and Belo Horizonte had become the setting for one of the biggest upsets in football history, a feature length movie and tales that have echoed down the ages.
England’s 1-0 defeat to the USA was a game of genuine historical significance for both teams and for the World Cup itself. And with Brazil again hosting the World Cup in 2014, Belo Horizonte’s on the schedule once more. The extremely impressive Mineirão is under massive renovation in the city and is expected to be completed in December ahead of next year’s FIFA Confederations Cup.
According to Andrew Warshaw’s insideworldfootball exclusive, the local World Cup Committee want to mark the occasion with a friendly between England and Brazil.
While I wonder whether it wouldn’t be more appropriate to have Jurgen Klinsmann and the United States Men’s National Team in town to play against England, it’s obvious why the Belo Horizonte World Cup Committee would want Brazil to be the opponents. And what a fantastic honour for England! Our name still carries a bit of weight in world football – and not always in a good way – but it would still be nice to be invited to be a part of Belo Horizonte’s new stadium opening given the city’s special place in England’s football history.
So, fingers crossed this one gets the go-ahead. Part of me very much hopes they consider a Miracle on Grass rematch as well or instead, but playing Brazil would be a perfectly acceptable second best.
(Photo credit: emarquetti via Flickr)