Why Brazilian Football Fans Are Ditching The Yellow Jersey

Higor Ramalho, an ardent football fan, plans to resume his regular trips to football stadiums as worries over the spread of the coronavirus ease, restrictions are lifted and the nation gets into the World Cup spirit.

However, the famous yellow jersey associated with the Brazilian national team has been hanging in his closet since June 2018. The last time he wore it was on his birthday. He does not know when, and if, he will ever wear it again.

“Wearing the yellow jersey was a moment of pride for me,” the 33-year-old told Al Jazeera.

“It was a symbol of victory. I used to wear it not only while watching matches but also on regular days. Now, I have stopped wearing it for political reasons. The current president, along with his supporters, turned the yellow jersey into a political campaign and a symbol of their political party.

“And as I don’t support their political ideas, I refuse to be mistaken as one of them.”

The yellow jersey, known as the “canarinho jersey”, has not always been the Brazil national team’s shirt.

It was designed in 1953, three years after the World Cup final heartbreak at the hands of Uruguay in the Maracana. At the time, the national team wore white.

The national football governing body, along with a newspaper, launched a competition to design a new uniform for the national side, the condition being the new kit should have the colours of the national flag as the current did not carry “the idea of Brazilian nationality”.

More than 300 entries were submitted. The winning submission was by Aldyr Garcia Schlee, a Brazilian who felt torn by the 1950 result given that he was born on the border with Uruguay.

Fast forward many years, including a record five football World Cup wins and two Copa America triumphs, the yellow jersey had become a symbol of optimism, luck and unity among football fans.