The making of the 1950 poster
FIFA World Football Museum
CARICATURES As a means of adding color and humour to the poster, caricatures were made of the two most notable goal scorers. Brazil’s Ademir found the net more often but Ghiggia scored the most important goal.
PLANE CRASH IN TURIN On may 4th 1949 a plane carrying the entire Torino football team, popularly known as Grande Torino, crashed into the retaining wall at the back of the Basilica of Superga. Naturally the loss of the leading club-side was also a hard blow for the Italian national team. The reigning champions were weakened and that became evident early on in the tournament the following summer. Losing to Sweden in the opening match meant the Italians were not able to progress to the final stage of the competition. The photographic material from the Superga disaster left much to be desired so additional photos of debris were added to make the presentation of the story a bit more powerful. The mix between 2D and 3D makes the image more interesting to look at as well as easier to navigate through.
PLANS FOR SUCCESS The mighty Maracanã stadium was built for the tournament and Brazil had high hopes it would be the epicenter of triumphant national pride. Those plans fell through but the stadium did become legendary. The idea of using an achitectural look was to accentuate the difference between carefully laid plans and their subsequent outcome.
The images below show the cleansing of an old caricature mocking the Brazilian goalkeeper Moacir Barbosa. He was shamefully accused of causing the defeat and suffered a lifetime of abuse because of this. Further down are headlines extracted from old Uruguayan newspapers. Details like these headlines and the caricature of Barbosa provide valuable zeitgeist to a poster that has very little material from the era. Archives that were made available for this project were European and in the fifties imagery did not travel the globe like today …
CENTER STAGE Such was the upset of the Uruguayan victory that the legacy of the 1950 tournament circles more around losing than winning. That had an impact on sketches and ideas for what should be showcased in the centre of the poster’s main illustration.
A rejected concept was built on the idea that Barbosa should be allowed final word on an injustice that plagued much of his life. A touching portrait shot of Barbosa was combined with a famous quote that translated goes something like this: “Under Brazilian law the maximum sentence is 30 years. But my imprisonment has been for 50 years”. That idea was deemed too gloomy and too focused on the losing side. Instead a montage built on an equally famous quote by Alcides Ghiggia, scorer of the decisive goal, met with a positive response. After the game Ghiggia often said only three men had ever quieted the Maracanã: Frank Sinatra, the pope and himself. An image of silence was construed by using that quote alongside a collage of action shots of the Uruguayan goals and the famous statue of Christ that overlooks Rio.
The serious face of the statue constrained by the lines of the pitch captures the crushing magnitude of the Maracanazo. In relative terms the defeat that Sunday in July had biblical proportions.