It is said that here in Brazil, every city has a church, a square and a soccer field. The sport is a national passion and is played on all corners of the country by all age groups. It does not matter the place – grass, sand, mud, asphalt - , all one needs is a ball to score a goal.
Brazil is known as “the country of soccer” and this is not unjustified. It is the only one that has been in every single edition of the World Cup, and holds the record of titles (five); its players are recognized and admired world-wide; fanatic supporters fill up stadiums with party and music. And it’s the country of Pelé, the greatest player of all times.
It is believed that the sport was first practiced in Brazil in 1894, when Charles Miller brought a ball from England. In those times, only the rich and aristocrat would play, but it didn’t take long before it became popular. At the beginning of professional era, only white players were allowed. Much because the founders of clubs were immigrants. There is a curious story about the mulatto Carlos Alberto.
In 1914, playing for Fluminense against América, his former club, he had to wear makeup (“pó-de-arroz” in Portuguese) on his face so as not to break the rules. But due to the heat and his sweat, the makeup ran down his face, and América supporters began to tease him, screaming “pó-de-arroz”. The nickname was adopted by Fluminense supporters, who began to salute their team throwing powder over the players at the beginning of every match. Slowly, black people started to be accepted in other clubs. Despite of what many people think, it was Bangu, not Vasco da Gama, the first to line up a black man (Francisco Carregal), in 1905. But Vasco made history winning the carioca championship (the championship of the State of Rio de Janeiro) in 1923, with a team formed basically by black working class people, beating the white elite once and for all.
The country’s main competition is the Brazilian Cup, from April to December, with games on almost all weekends. Other state cups, national and South American tournaments take place at the same time. Fans fill bars, friends’ homes, staying in front of the TV to watch the matches. In case of victory, the streets become small for so much commemoration.
FIFA World Cup in Brazil
Once World War II was finished, Europe was devastated and no place was available to host the 1950 World Cup. Since Brazil had participated in the previous three editions and South America was not damaged by the war, Fifa decided that the event would take place in our country.
During the administration of President Getúlio Vargas, the largest stadium in the world was built – Maracanã, in Rio de Janeiro – until today the most famous soccer stadium in the planet. Unfortunately, the competition's final match was not the best and Brazil was beat at home by Uruguay, in front of 200 thousand people, finishing as runner-up, the country’s major sports trauma until today.
After that defeat, CBD (Brazilian Confederation of Sports) blamed the team's white jersey, and decided to change the colors. The world's most famous soccer jersey was born. Yellow shirts and blue shorts became soccer synonym.
Ironically, the Brazilian National Soccer Team won its first World Cup eight years later, in Sweden, wearing their second uniform. With blue shirts and white shorts, the unforgettable Seleção Brasileira (Brazil’s National Team) defeated the home team by the score of 5x2, and the leadership of the black men Pele and Didi, as well as the mulatto Garrincha, helped spreading the sport among all classes. Soccer became the main element of the national identity, since it unites people from all colors, social conditions, beliefs and different regions of the country.
With Pele, Brazil was also world champion in 1962, in Chile, and in 1970, in Mexico. The King of Soccer, as the player became known, made his last appearance in Brazil’s National Team in 1971, the same year of the first Brazilian Tournament, that gathered the country’s greatest clubs and is today the most important national competition.
In 1976, Brazil won the Taça Atlântico, beating the best teams in the continent, such as Argentina, Uruguay and Paraguay. It was on that tournament that Zico made his debut in the National Team. In 1981, the “Seleção” made a victorious tour over Europe and arrived in Spain for the World Cup in the following year, with a world class team, whose matches were real shows.
In 1989, the Brazilian Soccer Confederation (CBF, which replaced CBD in 1979) created the Brazil Cup (Copa do Brasil), that gathers clubs from all leagues and states of the country.
The National Team did not win the World Cup again until 1994, with the forward Romário. In the following year they were Copa America (South America Cup) runner-ups, bronze medalists in the 1996 Atlanta Olympic Games, Copa América and Confederations Cup champions in 1997, and runner-ups in France 1998 World Cup.
In 2002, thanks to Rivaldo’s and Ronaldo’s goals, Brazil won its fifth world championship.
And if the National Team shines, the clubs are not far behind. Many have been world champions and today they are also “labs”, creating great players that become international stars. Everyday, new crazy for the sport kids appear, wishing to follow this hard-working, intense practicing and discipline requiring career.
A soccer player’s uniform requires some basic equipment, such as:
-- shorts (in case they use thermal shorts, these should have the same color of the regular shorts)
-- t-shirt (long or short sleeves)
-- a pair of socks
-- a pair of soccer shoes
-- a pair of shin-pads of a proper material (rubber, plastic or similar), with a considerable level of protection and fully covered by the socks
-- a pair of gloves (for the goalkeeper)
Players are not allowed to wear objects that could hurt others, like jewels and watches.
There are in Brazil countless options for those who wish to learn a little about the soccer art of a five-time world champion. Many clubs offer schools for kids and interchange programs for foreign players.
You will not run out of options to see the best soccer played in the world all year round. Come, and become a Brazilian soccer fan!
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