The players just stood there, mouths open, utterly aghast. For a few slow-motion seconds, then a few more, until minutes were passing. Nobody could quite believe what they were seeing. Tears streamed down the cheeks of defender Luiz Alberto.
Emotions were always likely to be high at the Arena Joinville, where Vasco da Gama – one of Brazil’s traditional heavyweights – were making one last stop on their way to the second flight. They needed a miracle to survive. They didn’t get it.
Yet Luiz Alberto is not a Vasco player and the relegation, when it came, was destined only to be a footnote to the events of the afternoon. The real story took place in the stands, where scenes of mindless, surreal violence cast the blackest of clouds over the final weekend of the Campeonato Brasileiro season.
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