1982 loss had a negative impact on the sport: Zico
'Style sacrificed for effectiveness'
Brazil’s stunning 3-2 defeat to Italy at the 1982 World Cup was one of the sport’s most memorable matches but former midfielder Zico believes it had a negative impact on world soccer that is still being felt today.
Brazil had delighted the world with their adventurous, flowing football until the fateful day at Barcelona’s Sarria stadium when a Paolo Rossi hat-trick, scored with the aid of a blunder-prone Brazil defence, eliminated them before the knockout stage.
Needing only a draw to qualify, Brazil nevertheless went for all-out attack and Zico said their failure to win the trophy meant their style of play was subsequently viewed as obsolete.
“Brazil had a fantastic team, recognised around the world, and everywhere we go people remind us about that team in 1982,” Zico told the Soccerex conference.
“If we had won that game, football would have been different. Instead, we started to create football based on getting the result at whatever cost, football based on breaking up the opposition’s move, and based on fouling the opposition.
“That defeat for Brazil was not beneficial for world football.
“If we had scored five goals that day, Italy would have scored six as they always found a way of capitalising on our mistakes.”
The consequences were especially far-reaching in Brazil, whose two World Cup wins since have been achieved in a more efficient, less flamboyant manner.
Brazil’s former coach Mano Menezes said earlier this year that Spain, rather than the five-time world champions, had become the new benchmark in international football.
Zico, who is considered one of the country’s finest players but failed to win the World Cup in three attempts, said Brazilian teams had become more interested in physical strength and doubted that he would be able to make it as a professional in the current game.
“Brazil is a fertile land for players but we have to change the mentality in the junior divisions of the clubs,” he said.
“I’m sure that I went for a trial at a football club today, I would be rejected for being thin and small.”
“You don't see Romario-type forwards in the youth divisions, (the centre forward) is always a big guy,” he said referring to the stocky striker who led their 1994 World Cup attack.
Quits as Iraq coach
Zico quit as coach of the Iraqi national team on Tuesday after little more than a year in the post, saying the country’s soccer association had failed to fulfill the terms of his contrac. His resignation comes with Iraq still battling for a place at the 2014 World Cup finals.