A retrospective look at the most iconic uniform in global sports
The Seleção. Yellow shirt, blue shorts, white socks, green trim. No other uniform in the world of sports come as revered as the Brazilian national team’s. The five stars adorned over the badge at the heart of the shirt tells the story of the five previous triumphs as kings of the football world. The team serves as the ambassadors of a nation that has transcended the status of the sport, from a mere game to religious status. And now, the nation is upon the threshold of hosting the world’s biggest spectacle for the second time: the FIFA World Cup Finals tournament, as thirty-two teams will determine who is the world’s best in the World’s Game.
The trademark Brazilian look was actually the result of what many Brazilians consider the most tragic sporting event in it’s history: the Maracanaço. The 1950 World Cup would see the hosts Brazil coast through the tournament to the final round. The final match would see them face South American rivals Uruguay, and many felt the heavily favored Brazilians would successfully capture the crown on home soil via a win or draw. Nearly 200,000 packed to the Maracanã in Rio with many celebratory songs and preparations, only the see the Uruguayans defeat the Brazilians, 2-1. The loss was so devastating, Brazil refused to white shirts for their kits, a declaration that stands even today. A national competition was held to determine a new uniform that best symbolizes Brazil’s colors and pride in 1953. Ironically, Brazilian-born Uruguayan supporter Aldyr Garcia Schlee, a successful journalist and writer, designed the kit which led to Brazil’s five World Cup titles.
Since 1996, Nike has been the technical supplier for Brazil’s national side, with appearances for the last four World Cup finals. The 1998 shirt was a clean look, with a round crewneck collar, a big change from the v-neck style usually worn by the team around that time, tight sleeve cuffs, and shoulder piping. Brazil would fall to the hosts, France, in the final. The 2002 strip was a revolutionary look all across Nike’s teams, with the Brazilians also affected. The canary yellow was changed to a brighter lemon shade, and the green modern effects and designs made it one to remember, as the Brazilians would win their fifth title in Japan and South Korea. The 2006 kit was more of an intimate take on the heritage of the nation’s rich footballing history. A crisp, classy look with a canary color restored, and nice green trim, present on the sleeves and hemline at the bottom of the shirt. A unique, Mandarin-styled collar was applied for a fresh look, and for the first time, the Seleção would have it’s own unique number font, reflective of it’s own art, style and culture, for a look suitable to the team.
For the 2010 World Cup in South Africa, Nike’s design team produced a look that was inspired by one of the greatest eras in Brazilian football: the early 1970s. The 1970 World Cup-winning side has been highly regarded as one of the greatest teams ever assembled, so it serves as an inspiration for this kit, which features a green crewneck collar, with modern appendages like silicon shoulder piping. The inner neck of the kit has a graphic that reads, “Nascido para jogar futebol,” “Born to play football” from Portuguese, with a graphic on the backside. This current 2014 World Cup strip, like the 2010 edition, seems simple, but is the most technically advanced kit, with a slim cut fit, and boasting many of the current aesthetic advances. The badge appears larger than in previous kits, and the green wishbone collar with thin sleeve stripes at the end leaves for a smooth, elegant look.
The Pentacampeões, Brazil looks to avenge their previous defeat on home soil, for what seems to be the most anticipated edition of the World Cup ever. Association Football may not have been created in Brazil, but it’s spiritual home resides there. With Luiz Felipe Scolari, the man who led Brazil to a World Cup in 2002 and a Confederations Cup in 2013 at the helm, and superstars like Neymar, Dani Alves and current captain Thiago Sliva representing a country where legends like Zico, Ronaldo, Ronaldinho and Pelé emerged, the expectations are high for a nation who only has one aspiration: to win the World Cup for a sixth time.