All thanks to the legacy left behind by Pele and his impact on the youth of Brazil. Most football clubs are invariably seen paying a premium to have a Brazilian player in their side. In fact, the phrase “Brazilian footballer” is as legendary as the phrases “Tibetan monk” or “French chef”.
The most distinguished Brazilian soccer symbol is the national team’s canary yellow soccer uniform. It’s perhaps among the top recognizable soccer uniforms in the world. During World Cups, football fans from London, New York, Tokyo, etc. can be seen sporting the shirt. The design for the shirt first came up in 1953, made by Aldyr Garcia Schlee.
Before 1953, Brazilian football team’s uniform was blue-collared white shirts, which was not considered patriotic enough. As a result, a local Rio newspaper, with the Brazilian Sports Federation’s support, conducted a competition for designing a fresh strip using Brazilian flag colors.
After a lot of trial and error and going back and forth, the team uniform was finally down to blue shorts, yellow shirt, and white socks, which has now become familiar among soccer fans.
The fresh uniform didn’t translate to an immediate change of fortunes for the Brazilian team. In fact, the team lost to Hungary in the 1954 World Cup quarterfinals held in Switzerland. It was in the year 1958 when Brazil became world champion. Ironically, the team didn’t wear the new design and color in the final, as the host nation (Sweden) was wearing yellow too. Since the Brazilian team didn’t lug along another jersey, it ended up removing the national emblem from the yellow shirt and sewed it on blue shirts purchased at the last moment in Stockholm.
Brazil next wore the yellow shirt during the 1962 World Cup. Nike, in 1996, reportedly shelled out $200 million to acquire the rights to Brazil’s soccer uniform, which was then the biggest individual sponsorship for a national team.
Brazil has stuck to the uniform ever since and it’s been more than half a decade of association. Though there have been matches when Brazil was seen without its trademark yellow jersey, such instances were rare and sporadic. Perhaps, no modern sports team has stuck to a particular color scheme and design for such a long period.
After the Brazilian football team, it’s perhaps the Australian cricket team that’s renowned for its yellow attire. But the Aussies have experimented long-term with green and other color attires, so they’re technically not as loyal to the yellow hue as the Brazilian soccer team. Thanks to this popularity, other sports teams from Brazil are also invariably seen donning yellow.