Football

Burying The Demons: The Significance Of Brazil's Return To White

Burying The Demons: The Significance Of Brazil's Return To White

When you think of the Brazilian national football team, the first thing that springs to mind is their iconic yellow and green jersey, blue shorts and white socks. They dazzled throughout the 20th century, winning four World Cups between 1958 and 1994. The 1970 side is widely considered to be the greatest international team of all time, dazzling with the likes of Pele and Jairzinho in their team.

However, you may be surprised to learn the the yellow jersey was not part of the early years of Brazilian football. Instead, they sported a white kit. That would all be brought to an end in the early 1950's after the biggest disappointment in the history of Brazilian football.

If you cast your mind back to furore surrounding the 2014 World Cup in Brazil, it was hosted in a nation that fell under a sense of mass hysteria over the tournament. It was billed as a homecoming for the premiere event in world football, and the sense of expectation around the Brazil team was difficult to comprehend.

Take that pressure and multiply many times over, and you might start to get a sense of what the 1950 World Cup meant to the nation of Brazil. The tournament was to be hosted in the South American nation for the first time, and off the back of a 12-year gap between tournaments due to World War II.

Not only this, but the most football obsessed country in the world were still waiting for their first taste of success in the tournament. To win it all on home soil was expected, especially when you consider Uruaguay and Italy had managed it in 1930 and 1934 respectively.

The format of the tournament was different back then, with four teams advancing to the final round. Whoever topped that final round robin would be world champions.

Brazil would reach that stage, along with Uruguay, Spain and Sweden. After winning their opening two matches, it would all come down to the final game against their Uruguay. The hosts needed a draw to secure their first Jules Rimet trophy.

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While not officially the World Cup final, it was as good as. The winners would be crowned world champions. An astonishing 199,854 people would cram into the Maracana Stadium in Rio Di Janeiro for the game, a world record that still stands to this day.

Brazil would take the lead just after half time, but it would not be their day. The Uruguayans would score two goals to win it, with Alcides Ghiggia bagging the winner 10 minutes from full-time.

It was considered an abject failure in Brazil, a national embarrassment. Sources of blame were sought, and a surprising one was found: Brazil's white kit. It was thought that the kit was not patriotic enough, as it did not contain all the colours of the nation's flag.

They would hold a national competition in 1953 to design a new kit, ran by newspaper Correio da Manhã. The contest would be won by 19-year old Aldyr Garcia Schlee, with the famous “Canarinho” (canary) kit combination coming to life.

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They would wear their now famous combination from 1954 onwards, going on to become the most dominant force in world football while doing so.

The white jersey was abandoned, considered a reminder of the biggest embarrassment in the history of Brazilian football. They would not don the white kit again, until now.

Nike have announced that Brazil will wear a white kit in this summer's Copa America, marking the 100-year anniversary of their maiden win in the competition.

It is a major break from their modern tradition, perhaps displaying that the demons of 1950 are well and truly behind them. After all, it is 69 years and five World Cup wins later.

The fact that this is a beauty of a kit makes it all the sweeter, but it will certainly feel strange seeing the Brazilian national team don white for the first time in our lifetime.

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Gary Connaughton

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