Brazil fans are hoping for an unusual outcome ahead of Tuesday’s World Cup qualifier match against Chile. They want Chile to win. Or more accurately, they want Brazil to lose on purpose.
Brazil fans created the hashtag “Entrega Brasil” (“Give it away, Brazil”), which began trending on Twitter over the weekend, and has continued to grow in popularity on Tuesday, when the final standings in CONMEBOL, South America’s qualifying division, will be decided.
Brazil’s fate is already sealed. With 38 points accumulated thanks to 11 wins, five draws and only one loss, it has already qualified for next summer’s World Cup in Russia. Three other teams will automatically qualify Tuesday, and one more will move on to a playoff against New Zealand for another spot in the tournament.
Heading into Tuesday’s decisive matches, only three points — or a single win — separate the second- through sixth-place teams. Argentina, which sits in sixth, has the opportunity to seal at least the playoff spot with a win over Ecuador. If Brazil beats third-place Chile, meanwhile, it would help Argentina secure an automatic qualifying spot.
Which is why Brazil fans, who consider Argentina the country’s biggest rival, would like to see Chile win.
If Brazil were to follow through with fans’ wishes and lose on purpose, it wouldn’t be the first time. Most famously, Austria allegedly allowed West Germany to win a group-round game during the 1982 World Cup to lock up a spot for both teams in the knockout round. The collusion, which most considered to be a spontaneous decision made on the part of Austria during the match, came at the expense of Algeria, which had already played its final group game. FIFA ruled neither Austria nor West Germany technically broke any rules, but it did lead soccer’s governing body to change its rules to ensure the final group matches in international tournaments are played simultaneously. (All five South American qualifiers on Tuesday, including Brazil-Chile and Argentina-Ecuador, will kick off at 7:30 p.m. EDT.)
History has also shown, however, that teams are often unwilling to sacrifice their play, even if a loss would mean knocking out a rival. The United States proved this ahead of the 2014 World Cup when it dramatically beat Panama, which inadvertently saved rival Mexico’s qualifying chances. Like Brazil this year, when Team USA played Panama in October 2013, the Americans had already qualified for the tournament.
Brazil appears to be opting for the latter plan, noting Argentina won’t be on its mind as it plays for the win against Chile.
“We qualified for the World Cup three matches ago and this has not changed the seriousness and the behavior of our team,” striker Gabriel Jesus said Monday (via ESPN FC). “And it won’t change now.”
Chile, too, has scoffed at the idea of any sort of collusion with Brazil.
“We don’t think of an agreement not to attack,” Chile’s famed goalkeeper Claudio Bravo said (via ESPN FC). “Brazil is a team that presses and plays well. They are at home, which favors them. But we improved in the last match. We’ll play our game and try to make history.”
That’s the attitude of Argentina, as well, as it prepares to face Ecuador in Quito, which sits 9,350 feet above sea level. All eyes will be on superstar Lionel Messi, who has scored four goals in the nine qualifiers he’s played during this campaign.
“If we are at Messi’s level, the match will go very well,” Argentina Coach Jorge Sampaoli said Monday (via Goal.com).
He added, however, “On this occasion, I’m going to be happy if the team win even if they don’t deserve it.”