Brazil’s legendary yellow shirts were born out of tragedy

There are quite a few football teams around the world that wear yellow jerseys. At the club level, the most famous team to wear yellow is German giants Borussia Dortmund. Since 1913, Dortmund has worn yellow with black accents. The Spanish La Liga side Villarreal, nicknamed the ‘yellow submarines’, also wear yellow. Yellow is also the colour of Watford FC, a London-based club whose owner was the late British singer Elton John. Club America, one of Mexico’s most popular and prestigious teams, also wears yellow.

Which national teams wear yellow? Some fans might think of the Swedish or Colombian national teams. However, the true owners of the colour yellow in world football are the Brazilian national team. Brazil is the only country to have played in every FIFA World Cup since the first one in 1930. Brazil has 76 career World Cup wins, a comfortable lead over second-place Germany (68) and third-place Argentina (47).

Along with the New York Yankees’ pinstriped uniforms, Brazil’s yellow shirts are among the most iconic and awe-inspiring uniforms in sports history, and they’ve become embedded in the minds of fans around the world. However, the Brazilian national team didn’t always wear yellow.스포츠토토

When Brazil joined FIFA in 1923, they wore white shirts with blue only at the collar of the neck. The trend continued afterwards, with Brazilian players wearing white shirts until 1950.

The 1950 World Cup was a special tournament for Brazilians. It was held on home soil. Brazil built the Maracanã Stadium in Rio de Janeiro (Rio) in anticipation of winning their first title and to showcase their passion for football. The 1950 World Cup was unique in that it was not a tournament but a round-robin to determine the winner. The four finalists – Uruguay, Brazil, Sweden, and Spain – played each other once, with the best team winning.

After two games per team, Brazil had two wins, Uruguay had one win and one draw, Spain had one draw and one loss, and Sweden had two losses, so the final match between Brazil and Uruguay was effectively the final. Brazil needed only a draw against Uruguay to win the title, while Uruguay needed to beat Brazil to win the title.

At the time, few doubted Brazil’s victory. Brazil thrashed Sweden and Spain 7-1 and 6-1 respectively. Uruguay, on the other hand, drew with Spain and beat Sweden by one point. What’s more, the Maracanã Stadium was packed with a staggering 173,850 fans, including standing room only, who were lopsidedly in favour of Brazil.

Geopolitically, Uruguay sits between longstanding regional rivals Brazil and Argentina. However, Uruguay is a cultural, political, and economic brother to Argentina. There is also a history of Uruguay and Argentina forming an allied army to fight Brazil in the early 19th century when Uruguay fought for independence from Brazil.

So, in addition to football pride, politics and history meant that Brazil could not afford to lose to Uruguay. The objectively superior Brazilians took the lead with a goal in the 47th minute, but after conceding back-to-back goals in the 66th and 79th minutes, Brazil eventually lost 1-2 and finished as runners-up.

When the final whistle blew, there was a long silence in Maracanã. The medals, speeches, and celebrations that had been planned in anticipation of Brazil’s victory were cancelled. Fans were frustrated, angry, and some wailed into the night. It was the beginning of a national trauma that would come to be known as the “Tragedy of Maracanã” and would haunt Brazil for years to come.

The Brazilian Football Confederation concluded that there was something wrong with the colour of their jerseys. The white shirts, blue collars, and white trousers that the team wore did not match the colours of the national flag. In 1953, a competition for a new uniform is organised by the football federation and a Rio-based newspaper called Correo da Magna. The new uniform had to include all four colours of the Brazilian flag.

Out of a total of 401 entries, the first prize went to 19-year-old newspaper illustrator Aldir Schley. “There were no football jerseys with the four colours (at the time), and I was particularly worried that the four colours didn’t look good together,” he said. After experimenting with more than 100 colour combinations, he says, he decided the shirt had to be yellow. Brazil’s legendary yellow shirt, also known as the “canary shirt,” was born.

In March 1954, Brazil played its first match in yellow against Chile. The result was a 1-0 victory for Brazil. Four years later, in the 1958 World Cup final, Brazil defeated hosts Sweden 5-2 to win the tournament for the first time. Brazil would go on to win four more World Cups, for a total of five titles. Some say the yellow canary shirt changed the fortunes of Brazilian football.

In the mid-to-late 20th century, Brazilian legends like Pele, Xilginho, Zico, and Socrates, who wore the yellow shirt, took the game to new heights. The yellow shirt symbolises the glamour, creativity and joy of Brazilian football and will live long in the hearts of football fans around the world.

Visiting Professor, Department of International Affairs, Ewha Womans University


Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Related Posts