Brazilian Football History

A Little Something About Brazilian Football History

Football – or what Americans like to call soccer – has been around for a very long time. It was invented in England, but it somehow became popular all over the world. In Brazil, however, football is no longer just another sport. It’s pretty much its own religion. But how did it get to Brazil? How did it become so popular? And what are the best Brazilian soccer players of all time? Let’s dive into Brazilian football history, learn about Brazil’s kit, Brazil’s biggest defeat in football history and much more.

The Origin of Brazilian Football

Believe it or not, the history of soccer in Brazil is not all straightforward. Actually, it’s just about as easy as you’d imagine learning Portuguese without any help would be – not easy at all!  So we’ll start with a hot topic: who brought football to Brazil. There are two contended versions to this story.

Brazilian Football History at the hands of Thomas Donohoe

Some people believe it was the Scotsman Thomas Donohoe who brought the first soccer balls to Brazil in the early 1890s. It is said that Donohoe and other British workers from the Bangu factory in Rio de Janeiro introduced the sport to the locals. If this is true, the first football match in Brazil would have taken place in 1894 in the West Zone of Rio.

How’s that contested? Well, some discredit Donohoe and the matches played in Rio due to the fact they did not follow protocol. The fields used to play didn’t have the official measurements. Their teams didn’t wear uniforms. And there was no previous planning or organization for the match.

Charles Miller as the First Soccer Player in Brazilian Football History

The second origin story states that Brazilian football history began in the year 1898, when the first football team was formed at the Mackenzie school, in São Paulo. Thanks to the incentive of Charles Miller, many other teams were formed and, in very little time, there were already several teams in cities around the country.

According to this version, Charles Miller was responsible for bringing football to Brazil. To be more precise, in 1894 Charles brought two soccer balls and some books that explained the rules of the sport after having had his own experience as a player in an English club. His first football match in Brazil happened just a few months after Donohoe’s.

Brazil Grows Hungry for More Football

The first matches between Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo were in 1901. In 1902, there was the first Paulista Championship. But it was only in 1906 that Brazilian football was seen by the world: the Paulista team played its first official international match. The match took place at home, in São Paulo, but the team lost with a score of 6 – 0 against the a South African team.

In 1925, Brazilian football gained space in Europe. There were ten matches, nine of which Brazilians left victorious. After Brazil’s victories abraod, the CBD (Confederação Brasileira de Desportos) was created. However, FIFA only recognised CBD nine years later.

Football slowly became the most popular sport in Brazil – a true national passion. And Pelé, the king of football, is considered a national hero. Apart from him, Brazil is also home to some of the best soccer players of all time, famous all over the world, names such as: Romário, Zico, Ronaldo and many others that helped win important titles (like five World Cups) and helped build Brazil’s great football reputation. They also created the image of Brazil as the land of Futebol Arte (Art Football). That is a distinct style and technique in which players present different dribbles and unique abilities.

Now we understand why Brazil is the land of football.

Timeline of Brazilian Football History

1894 – Charles Miller brings two footballs to Brazil and some books about football rules
1898 – The first football team is create at Mackenzie school in São Paulo
1901 – First football matches between Rio and São Paulo
1902 – The first Paulista Championship
1906 – Brazilian football gets seen by the world
1925 – Brazil participates in 10 games in Europe and wins 9 of them
1930 – Jules Rimet organizes the first World Cup in Uruguay

Brazil’s World Titles

The first football world championship was organized by Jules Rimet in Uruguay in 1930. That same competition began to take place every four years and is now known as the World Cup. A fun fact is that Brazil is the only country that has participated in every single World Cup. It is also the only to win the title five times. Let’s learn some more about Brazil’s World Cup history.

Brazil’s World Cup History

In 1914, the famous Seleção Brasileira was born. Over the following years, Brazil joined FIFA and participated in the very first World Cup in 1930. Unfortunately Brazil didn’t do so well in it, really. Nor in the World Cup after that. But from the 1950s to the 1970s, the national Brazilian team certainly made up for that.

Between 1958 and 1970, Brazil won three world titles. Yes, that is three out of four World Cups held in those years. This was known as the golden age of the Brazilian national team. And the team who played the World Cup in 1970 is still said to be the best of all time. Following victories took place in 1994 and 2002, and they made Brazil the first country to win four and then five World Cup titles.

World Cup Titles in Brazilian Football History

Want to find out more about how Brazil won each of their five World Cups? Take a look at these other Dicas:

The Best Team to Never Win the World Cup

Despite it all, some Brazilians find the 1982 World Cup very remarkable. In fact, for a lot of people believe the team assembled in 1982 was just as good as the one from 1970. So even though 1982 marked a victory for Italy and not Brazil, the popularity of the Brazilian team far outshone the Italians. And even to this day, plenty of Brazilians would argue that the 1982 team was the best team Brazil has ever had – or at the very least, the best team to never win the World Cup.

Best Brazilian Players of All Time

It’s impossible to talk about Brazil’s World Cup history and not mention the best Brazilian soccer players of all time. These men did indeed make history. And we couldn’t start with anyone other than Pelé, nicknamed king of football. He made his debut at 1958 World Cup when he was only 17. Garrincha was one of his teammates for the World Cups in 1958 and 1962. When they played together, Brazil didn’t lose a single match.

Here’s a list of the top 10 Brazilian players of all time and the World Cups in which they played:

  • Pelé (1958, 1962, 1966, 1970)
  • Garrincha (1958, 1962)
  • Jairzinho (1966, 1970, 1974)
  • Carlos Alberto Torres (1970)
  • Rivellino (1970, 1974, 1978)
  • Romário (1994)
  • Ronaldo Fenômeno (1994, 1998, 2002, 2004)
  • Rivaldo (1998, 2002)
  • Ronaldinho Gaúcho (2002, 2004)

Did we forget your favorite Brazilian soccer player of all time? Tell us if we did! And if you’d like to know more about the best Brazilian players of all time, you can check out this Dica.

Brazil’s Kit History

If we’re talking about Brazilian football history, then we have to bring up the history of Brazil’s football kit too! Nowadays, we think of the best Brazilian football players all wearing the iconic yellow shirt and blue shorts. That’s not how Brazil’s team looked like initially, though.

At first, Brazilian players wore a white shirt with a blue collar. However, in 1950, when Brazil lost the World Cup to Uruguay while playing at home in the Maracanã Stadium, fans went crazy. They claimed that Brazil had lost due to the lack of nationalism shown in the team’s uniform. This was a big shake up in Brazil’s kit history.

The Brazilian Sports Confederation took that criticism seriously! They launched a competition for fans to participate in and invited people from all over Brazil to send in designs. The winner? A 19-year-old boy who simply suggested the team should wear a yellow shirt with a green neckline, blue shorts with white stripes on the sides and white socks with green and yellow stripes. Minor changes have been made over the years, but the canarinho style perseveres. You can check this link out to see all of the shirts worn by the Brazilian team in the past.  Who would have thought this was Brazil’s shirt history?

Important Brazilian Tournaments

Besides participating in World Cups, Brazil has their own championships. The interesting thing is that our country is divided in states, and each state has its own regional tournament. Here they are:

  • Campeonato Brasileiro: National League. The best teams compete every year and it’s the most important tournament in the country.
  • Copa do Brasil: Brazilian Cup. Each state selects the teams with the best results in the state tournament to represent them.
  • Campeonato Carioca: a tournament only with teams from Rio de Janeiro.
  • Campeonato Paulista: a tournament only with teams from São Paulo.
  • Campeonato Gaúcho: a tournament only with teams from Rio Grande do Sul.

Brazil’s Biggest Defeat in Football History

We’ve talked about all the good, but that doesn’t mean Brazil’s football history lacks the bad and the ugly. Remember that match against Uruguay in the Maracanã Stadium? Well, that was the final match in the 1950 World Cup. Uruguay scored the winning goal just ten minutes before the end. Ghiggia, one of the Uruguayan players on the field that day, said he looked at the stands and saw people in tears. The Maracanaço (or Maracanazo), as it became known, was a tragedy in the eyes of Brazilians.

In 2014, tragedy struck Brazil once again during the World Cup semifinals. With Brazil hosting the World Cup, yet another match played at home that led to, quite literally, Brazil’s biggest defeat in football history. The Mineiraço (also simply referred to as “sete a um“) crushed Brazilians’ dreams of winning a world title while playing at home. Germany scored seven goals, and Brazil, only one. It was the biggest margin of goals scored against Brazil in an international match in all of Brazil’s football history. Most people can only think of one word when thinking of that match: humiliation.

At the end of the day, however, Brazil’s still the country with the most World Cup wins. It stands out as the country not just of football, but also the art of football. Its players have worldwide success and play soccer for clubs all over the world. And Brazilians couldn’t be more proud about this part of their culture.

Now, we know a little bit more about Brazilian football history.

So long, folks!

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Click on the links below to see more related Dicas
Best Brazilian Players of All Time
Soccer Vocabulary in Portuguese
The Origin of the Cachaça
Brazil’s first Samba School

This post is also available in: English Português (Portuguese) Español (Spanish)

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