Today the FIFA World Cup gets serious.

footballteamsThe eight finals, begin. Here it is win, or go home.

Now, a little bit of history.

The story of Brazil’s ‘sacred’ yellow and green jersey

When Brazil play their first knockout game of this World Cup on Saturday, a football-crazy nation will be rooting for them. But many lovers of the game elsewhere will also be hoping to see the daring, imaginative play they have come to associate with the distinctive yellow shirt.

It is an international symbol of joy. A football shirt that conjures up images of the game’s greatest players, playing the beautiful game in the most beautiful of ways.

It has become synonymous with the glamour, magic and fun of Brazilian football on the backs of players such as Pele, Jairzinho, Zico and Socrates, who took football to new heights during the second half of the 20th Century.

“For Brazilians, that yellow jersey is sacred,” says Carlos Alberto, captain of the great 1970 World Cup-winning side.

“When we wear it, of course we feel pride but it also brings responsibility, a responsibility to inspire and to excite.”

Alongside the pinstripes of baseball’s New York Yankees, it has become the most iconic kit in sport. Yellow shirt with green trim. Blue shorts with white stripe. White socks. Distinct and dynamic colours that cannot be confused or mistaken for any other team.

Walk down the street in Sao Paulo, San Diego or Slough, Fortaleza, Frankfurt or Fort William and before long, you are likely to encounter someone wearing a Brazil football shirt, most probably carrying the number 10 on the back.

But it’s unlikely that many know how Brazil came to wear yellow, or that there was ever a time when they didn’t.

As with so much in Brazilian football, the story dates back to a stunning 2-1 defeat by Uruguay on home soil in the final match of the 1950 World Cup.

This proved to be a watershed moment, a reference point for the country’s footballing aspirations. The recriminations were fierce and far-reaching, and the team colours were not immune.

Brazil humiliated


As Uruguay striker Alcides Ghiggia peeled away to celebrate, he noticed the huge new Maracana stadium had fallen silent.

“Three people have silenced the Maracana – Frank Sinatra, the Pope and me,” he recalls.

How Uruguay broke Brazilian hearts in the 1950 World Cup

The white shirts, with blue collars, white shorts and white socks that they had played in until that moment were deemed unpatriotic, not reflective of the Brazilian flag in which the green represents the vast swathes of forest, the golden yellow the country’s raw wealth and the blue globe and white stars, the Rio sky at night. It was time to start again. In 1953, a competition was launched by a newspaper, Correio da Manha, to design a new kit. The rules were set, the new strip must use the four colours of the Brazil flag: yellow, blue, green and white. The winning design would be worn at the 1954 World Cup in Switzerland.

Aldyr Garcia Schlee was an 18-year-old newspaper illustrator when he entered.

From his home in Pelotas, a small town in the Rio Grande do Sul, close to the Uruguay border, he sketched out 100 different combinations of the colours. He tried green and yellow hoops on the shirt, with blue shorts, he tried stripes and chevrons.

Schlee’s original illustrations for the Brazil kit

“In the end I realised the shirt just had to be yellow,” Schlee said. “That went nicely with the blue and the socks could be white, with the green around the collar.”

It was the simplicity and harmony of his design that caught the judges’ eye, among the 401 entries. The second-placed design was also simple, featuring a green shirt, white shorts and yellow socks.

Brazil played in their new colours for the first time in March 1954, when they beat Chile 1-0 at the Maracana in Rio. The country won its first World Cup four years later, beating Sweden in Stockholm to lift the trophy. The great irony for Schlee was that because Sweden wore yellow, Brazil won the World Cup wearing blue shirts.

“We didn’t have a change of colours and the Brazilian federation refused to consider wearing white again,” Carlos Alberto recalls. “So they went to Stockholm and bought 22 blue T-shirts for the players and then they put the emblems on.”

It was 1962 before Brazil first lifted the Jules Rimet Trophy in that unique shade of golden yellow.

Most media coverage remained in black and white, however, and the first opportunity for many of the world’s football fans to see a yellow shirt in action was at the 1970 World Cup in Mexico – the first to be shown in colour television.

Source: BBCNews Read more