Brazilian Football History

example of brazilian football history team in 1970: A seleção brasileira de 1970 foi incrível!

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 who are the best Brazilian soccer players of all time? Let’s dive into Brazilian football history, learn about Brazil jersey history, the biggest defeat in football, world cup 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.

Thomas Donohoe and the Brazilian Football History

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 and the 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.

Football slowly became the most popular sport in Brazil – a true national passion. Our players helped win important titles (like five World Cups) and built 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 Early 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

Brazilian Football Confederation (CBF)

brazilian football confederation logo
It’s the CBF logo that goes on every Brazil jersey! Picture by Brazillian Football Confederation at Wikicommons.

The Brazilian Football Confederation, known as Confederação Brasileira de Futebol (CBF), is the governing body for soccer in Brazil. Established on August 8, 1914, the CBF is responsible for organizing and overseeing all football-related activities in the country. The CBF also plays a crucial role in the development of football at the grassroots level. It implements programs and initiatives to foster the growth of the sport among youth, supporting talent identification and development.

But most important, CBF is in charge of the Brazilian national football teams, both men’s and women’s. It oversees the selection of players, coaching staff, and the team’s participation in international competitions, including the FIFA World Cup, Copa America, and other tournaments. However, like many football governing bodies, the CBF has faced its share of challenges and controversies, including issues related to governance, financial transparency, and allegations of corruption. These challenges are not unique to Brazil but reflect broader issues within the world of football administration.

Brazil Football Kit History: Jersey and Nationalism

brazil jersey history: multiple people watching a brazil world cup game wearing the famous green and yellow jersey
History and pictures don’t lie: Brazil jersey is always used during Brazilian soccer games!

If we’re talking about Brazilian football history, then we have to bring up the history of Brazil jersey 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 jersey 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 football shirt history?

Brazil’s World Titles

brazil 1970 soccer team, featuring the famous pelé
Brazil 1970 soccer team was incredible! Picture by El Gráfico at Wikicommons.

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 and Brazilian Football History

Let’s check out the final position for each year Brazil played in the World Cup! The years we won 1st place are in bold!


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.

Brazil’s Biggest Defeat in Football History

brazil 2014 team during the biggest defeat in football history
No one was prepared for Brazil biggest defeat in football history! Picture by Agência Brasil at Wikicommons.

We’ve talked about all the good, including the fenomenal Brazil jersey history! 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.

Best Brazilian Players of All Time

one of the greatest football players of all time: pelé
One of the greatest players of all time: Pelé! Picture by Wikicommons.

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:

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.

Conclusion: Brazil is still a soccer star!

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. What about you? Did you know the history about Brazil biggest defeat in football? What about the history behind Brazil jersey?

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

So long, folks!

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)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Search for Portuguese Dicas

Tell us which Portuguese lesson you would like to learn


Generic selectors
Exact matches only
Search in title
Search in content
Post Type Selectors

Suscribe to A Dica do Dia.

Get free Portuguese lessons. Subscribe to A Dica do Dia and get short, daily lessons in Portuguese completely free.

Based on 321 reviews
I’ve just started online classes with Prof. Ana Carolina & she is the absolute best! It’s my first time learning Portuguese and I was speaking full sentences in the first class. Obrigada!
Katie Andrews
Katie Andrews
Small classes, diverse accents, and engaging professors make Rio & Learn Online a fantastic choice! I've been thrilled with my experience at Rio & Learn Online so far. The small class sizes (around 1-3 others students) allow for personalized attention and plenty of opportunities to practice speaking. What's more, having different professors throughout the program exposes you to various accents, preparing you for real-world interactions. I opted for the full-time program, which involves 2 hours of daily learning from Monday to Friday. After just over 12 weeks, I can confidently say my Portuguese has improved dramatically. The professors are incredibly engaging and encourage students to utilize real-life examples, solidifying the learning process. While I'm only halfway through the program, I'm confident in recommending Rio & Learn Online to anyone seeking to learn Portuguese in a supportive and effective environment. I've gone from being a complete beginner (only knowing hi and bye) to holding conversations - and I'm excited to see how much further I can progress! I'll be back with another review after completing the program, but for now: Rio & Learn Online - highly recommended!
Mona Hinamanu
Mona Hinamanu
I have been taking Portuguese classes with Rio and Learn for a few months. I appreciate their methodology. It is enjoyable and I am challenged and improving every day!
Bryan Beaver
Bryan Beaver
My teachers Lucas, Ana Paula and Paulo were all excellent as well as very friendly and funny. It was a really enjoyable experience and I met loads of interesting new people.
David Smith
David Smith
Rio & Learn e um novo jeito de ensinar a lingua portuguesa. Puro prazer e muito eficiente. Quanto mais alunos na aula mais vida. Eu aconselho voces escolher as aulas grupais por porque sao interativas: rir, falar, argumentar, compartir uma lingua!
Dominique Jacquin
Dominique Jacquin
Après 3 semaines que je suis dans cette école et je peux déjà parler portugais. Certe avec des erreurs mais j'ai fait des progrès fulgurant. En plus, du Lundi au Vendredi l'ecole propose des activitées qu'il appelle "Rio Live" ce qui permet de visiter en même temps Rio tout en parlant Portugais et de rencontrer des gens😃 Toute l'équipe est genial et est prêts à aider si besoin 😁
I've been taking the group online courses with Rio&Learn for 2 months. They offer a fantastic way to learn Portuguese and get speaking practice if you don't live in Brazil. The teachers are engaging and are able to adjust their level of Portuguese to whatever level you are at. Obrigado!
Jake H
Jake H
C'est vraiment fantastique...RioAndLearn. Les cours de portugais...ça vaut vraiment la peine. Les cours ont lieu du lundi au vendredi, (de 9h à 13h) et en après midi, ce sont des activités libres en groupe. (Soccer de plage, volleyball , excursions, visites des lieux touristiques, etc) Vendredi soir, on est allé à Lapa, un quartier nocturne de Rio. C'est quelque chose à voir! Des rues bondées de monde, des orchestres, des discothèques...Allô les décibels! L'apprentissage du portugais se fait en immersion, aussi bien en salle de classe que dans les activités extérieures organisées par Rio&Learn. On est plongé dans la langue portugaise et la culture Brésilienne.... Obligé de parler portugais....🫡 Je le recommande. Pierre Pedro, Montréal, Canada
M54 “M5454” 54
M54 “M5454” 54