Tite has confirmed that he will step down as Brazil coach after six years in charge. The 61-year-old had always maintained that he would leave after completing a full World Cup cycle, and so his reign will end with the 4-2 defeat on penalties to Croatia in the World Cup quarter-finals.
“The cycle has ended, and I keep to my word,” he said. “There are other great professionals that can replace me.” But in a sober and largely emotionless press conference, Tite left with a defence of his team’s record, not just against Croatia but in the tournament as a whole. “When their goalkeeper is the best player on the field, the game is talking to you,” he said in reference to Croatia’s Dominik Livakovic. “We had to be more effective in making goals. But did Brazil show their best? Overall, yes.
“I understand that I am the most responsible, but we are all responsible for the loss. It’s not about being a hero or a villain. There is no such thing in sports. Sometimes we have a great performance, we shoot at goal, and the ball deviates. That’s normal. But I can respect the result.”
This is a World Cup like no other. For the last 12 years the Guardian has been reporting on the issues surrounding Qatar 2022, from corruption and human rights abuses to the treatment of migrant workers and discriminatory laws. The best of our journalism is gathered on our dedicated Qatar: Beyond the Football home page for those who want to go deeper into the issues beyond the pitch.
Guardian reporting goes far beyond what happens on the pitch. Support our investigative journalism today.
The immediate reaction in Brazil was not so measured. The bitter disappointment of losing after being 1-0 up in the 117th minute soon morphed into criticism of Tite’s tactics and his decision to disappear straight down the tunnel at full-time instead of commiserating with his players. One Brazilian television host called him a “donkey” for assigning Neymar the fifth penalty, which was never taken.
“The fifth penalty is the decisive one,” Tite argued. “There is more pressure and players who are mentally prepared are best to take it.” Tite’s legacy is contested. He reinvented Brazil’s style of play, took them to the top of the world rankings, and won the Copa America in 2019 before losing it on home soil in 2021. And in the biggest tournament of all, he has now suffered two quarter-final defeats. “Time will answer that,” he replied when asked how his tenure should be judged.
The Croatia coach Zlatko Dalic paid tribute to one of his country’s “greatest wins” after a miraculous comeback to reach their second straight World Cup semi-final. “We are a small country,” he said. “Our players are great fighters. Our honesty, hard work and professionalism reflects on us. People are surprised by our ability to do such a phenomenal thing. But we expected it.”