Brazil is the only team to compete in every World Cup and have won a record 5 titles. The history of the Seleção’s iconic home and away jerseys are equally tied to the World Cup. Soccer365 examines the history of the Brazil World Cup jersey and the looks that have provided a classic style to the beautiful game.
The canary yellow jersey with green detailing is etched into the mind of every soccer fan. They are worn with pride by the players and millions of fans around the world. And the design is as closely associated with the Brazilian national team as the white with blue pinstripe jersey of the New York Yankees or the Dallas Cowboys’ white jersey with silver and blue detailing and star on the helmet.
Surprisingly, the canary yellow/green kit has not always been worn by the Brazilian national team and it took a national tragedy at the 1950 World Cup in Brazil to put its stamp on the team kit.
Brazil’s Home White Soccer Jersey: 1930-1950 FIFA World Cups
A white jersey with blue detailing was the most common design for the Brazil national team jersey for the first 40 years after the Brazilian Football Confederation (CBF) was founded in 1914. A kit with a white jersey and blue shorts was used at the 1930, 1934, and 1938 World Cups.
Brazil updated their kit design to an all-white kit with blue detailing for the special occasion of hosting the quadrennial even in 1950. The home side was expecting to win their first World Cup title but after marching to the title game things did not go according to plan. Brazil lost to South American rival Uruguay 2-1 in front of 200,000+ fans at the Maracana Stadium and life changed forever in Brazil.
The defeat left fans in shock and had people criticizing the jersey colors and pointing out that they were not patriotic. White is not a prominent color in the Brazilian flag. Brazilian newspaper Correio da Manhã took the initiative to bring about change and with the support of CBF ran a contest to design a new jersey. The only requirement was that the new kit include the 4 colors of the flag.
With over 300 entries, the newspaper selected Garcia Schlee’s design. The 19-year-old illustrator submitted a kit with the yellow jersey, blue shorts, and white socks.
Brazil’s Canary Yellow Jersey Unveiled Ahead of 1954 FIFA World Cup
Brazil debuted the new look in a 1-0 win over Chile at the Maracana in 1954. They were not ready to conquer the world in their new look, however.
At the 1954 World Cup in Switzerland, Brazil were defeated by the tournament favorites, Hungary, 4-2 in the quarterfinals at Wankdorf Stadium. Fans were expecting a great match with Brazil known for their skill and style and Hungary was in their golden generation and known as the ‘Magical Magyars.’ The game was one of the most violent in tournament history and known as the Battle of Berne. Three players were sent off and the violence continued after the final whistle and into the Hungarian locker room.
Brazil’s Away Jersey Makes History at 1958 FIFA World Cup
Brazil finally got their hands on the Jules Rimet Trophy in 1958. With 17-year-old Pele leading the way, Brazil defeated Sweden 5-2 at Råsunda Stadium in Solna, Sweden to win the World Cup. With his brace, Pele became, and still holds the record, as the youngest player to score in a World Cup final.
The victory, however, did not come in their home yellow/green kit. Sweden, as the host nation, were given the privilege of wearing their home kit of a yellow jersey with blue shorts so Brazil was forced to change. As was common at the time, Brazil did not have an ‘away’ jersey and were forced to buy a blue jersey in Stockholm. The team removed their federation badges from the home jersey and had them sewn onto the alternate look.
The blue jersey had been used for the away jersey since the 1930’s but became the official away jersey of Brazil after the historic win in Sweden.
World Cup Titles in the Iconic Canary Yellow Jersey
It did not take long for Brazil to win their first World Cup in their yellow/green home jersey. They defeated Czechoslovakia 3-1 in the jerseys designed by Schlee at Nacional Santiago De Chile at the 1962 World Cup in Chile. Brazil also wore their iconic look in winning World Cup titles in 1970 (4-1 vs Italy at Estadio Azteca in Mexico City), 1994 (0-0, 3-2 PK’s vs Italy at the Rose Bowl in Pasedena, CA), and in 2002 (2-0 vs Germany in International Stadium in Yokohama).
The 1994 World Cup in the United States was historic for the Brazilian national team. Brazil became the first team to win 4 World Cup titles and they captured the attention of Nike. The Portland based apparel and footwear brand had 10 players on the Brazilian national team wearing their new Nike Tiempo Premier soccer cleats but more importantly it laid the ground work for a sponsorship deal of the famous canary yellow/green soccer jersey signed in 1996.
Brazil’s most iconic export had for most years been unbranded. There were exceptions with adidas sponsoring the jersey at the 1978 World Cup in Argentina (although the adidas logo did not appear on the jersey only the trademark 3-Stripes on the shoulders and down the sleeves), Topper showing up on the right chest of the jersey for the 1986 World Cup in Mexico and the 1990 World Cup in Italy.
The Nike Years: 1994 FIFA World Cup to Present
The 1994 World Cup jersey still ranks as the most over-the-top in Brazil history and was a product of the early 90’s and Umbro. The Double Diamond went all out sublimating the CBF crest, 3 times no less, across the front of the jersey. It was also the first time the CBF badge appeared on the short as well as the sponsor logo.
Nike’s first World Cup jersey as Brazil’s technical sponsor appeared at the 1998 tournament in France. The jersey had a more modern feel with a crew collar as well as featuring more green then previous jerseys. With Dunga as captain along with Rivaldo, Cafu, Ronaldo & co the team came up short losing to the host in the final.
“The 1998 design helped set a tone for who we were and helped Nike stand out on the field,” Nike’s Devon Burt, then Nike Creative Director for Apparel, said in a Nike retrospective about the Brazil soccer jersey. “We came up with something simple, refined and classic. The design was about beauty paired with a lot of great innovative details.”
The biggest departures from the classic Brazilian look came at the 2002 World Cups. The standard canary (marigold) yellow was replaced with a brighter lemon yellow. The jersey continued the trend over the next decade of more green detailing on the jersey.
A return to the classic yellow came about for the 2006 World Cup along with a more traditional, even simple approach with green detailing only on the collar and outside edge of the sleeve cuffs. The most eye-catching aspect of the jersey was the use of a mandarin style collar.
The design of the 2010 and 2014 Brazil World Cup jerseys saw a continued push to a bygone era. A ‘simple t-shirt style of the 1970’s was the inspiration for the 2010 design while the 2014 version, when Brazil once again hosted the World Cup, kept it simple but added a modern ‘Y’ style collar and an enlarged crest.
Ironically, Schlee who famously created the iconic look for the Brazilian national team was a fan of Uruguay. He lived in the Brazilian town of Pelotas, near the Uruguay border, when he designed the jersey. And as fate would have it, he had crossed into Uruguay to catch the latest Roy Rogers movie on the day of ‘The Defeat’ in 1950. When the final whistle was blown, the movie was interrupted to announce Uruguay had won their 2nd World Cup title.
What is your favorite Brazil national soccer team World Cup jersey? Do you prefer the traditional look or would you like to see more along the lines of the 1994 World Cup jersey? Leave your comments below.
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