On this day sixty four years ago, the very first match of the 4th FIFA World Cup Finals was played in the Maracana Stadium in Rio de Janeiro. Brazil Post marked the event by issuing a set of three postage stamps (60 centesimos, 1.2 cruzeiros, 5.8 cruzeiros) which were designed by Bernardino Lanzetta and Marino Pinheiro.
Unlike these days when host nations often begin to market their commemorative stamps months or even years before the big event, Brazil Post released their set on the very day of the opening game which saw the host nation defeat Mexico 4-0 in front of over 80,000 at the Maracana Stadium.
The Maracana had actually staged its very first game just a week before the Finals with a special match which saw the Rio de Janeiro All Stars beating the Sao Paulo All Stars 3-1, with Didi of Rio's Fluminense scoring the first ever goal in the stadium. The 1.2 cruzeiros stamp is dedicated to the newly built Maracana, and the massive stadium also appeared in blue ink on the top of a card issued by the Philatelic Society of Brazil.
Today, the stamps themselves are extremely common to pick up - not just because they were issued in large quantities, but I expect no Brazilian wants to be reminded of them. They are tainted with the national catastrophe brought about by that shock 2-1 defeat to Uruguay in the Final match of the 1950 competition which was played in front of a staggering 200,000 (though no-one knows for sure) crowd at the Maracana Stadium on the 16th July 1950.
|The 60 centesimo issue stamped with the 24th June 1950 postmark|
|The Maracana was optimistically depicted in gold, but no winners trophy for the host nation in 1950|
|Did the footballer in dark shadow predict the catastrophe?|
In March 1951, Uruguay issued a set of two stamps to mark their triumph at the 4th FIFA World Cup in Brazil. It is estimated that an incredible 5 million copies of each value were printed. That would have meant that there were four times the amount of these stamps in circulation than the entire population of the nation of Uruguay which was about 2.5 million people back then!
Needless to say that I expect that this issue inevitably turns up missing from the albums of Brazilian stamp collectors...