Soccer is the national passion of our country. This is the sport that makes our hearts beat faster, inspires fans and drives Brazil. Our national team is a source of great pride, a faith that strengthens our national union through a democratic art form.
The early days of soccer were quite different from what we see in Brazil today. It was an elite sport and until the 1920s only white men were allowed to be professional players. Vasco was the first major Brazilian team to win championships with a team that included black players.
During the Vargas era, the construction of Maracanã stadium and the 1950 World Cup in Rio de Janeiro gave a major boost for the sport in Brazil. Brazil’s 1958 World Cup victory, led by black players Didi and Pelé, mulatto player Garrincha and São Paulo captain Bellini, consolidated soccer as a major element of the country’s national identity. It united people of all races, social classes, beliefs and regions of the country.
Since the beginning of the 21st century, Brazil has become a major world exporter of players. Between 1993 and 2009, players’ contracts totaled over US$2 billion, transforming these top athletes into an important export product.
Europe is the biggest importer of Brazilian soccer players. Of the 1.776 players that left Brazil in 2008, 762 went to the old continent. The transfer of Brazilian soccer players to foreign teams is so common that the president of FIFA, Joseph Blatter, once stated that some day all soccer teams will only have Brazilian players.
The Brazilian national soccer team is one of the most important sports teams in the country. With 5 titles, Brazil is the biggest World Cup Champion in the world and the team is known by its green and yellow shirt, blue shorts and white socks, representing the four colors of the Brazilian flag.
Our team has also won the America Cup 8 times and the Confederation Cup twice. Currently, most players on the national team play for foreign clubs. Of the Brazilian teams, Rio’s Botafogo has the honor of having supplied most players to the national team – 92 Botafogo players have played on the national team so far.
Traditionally, the Brazilian soccer season starts in January. The first competitions are the state championships and the rivalry between teams in each region is intense.
The Brazil Cup (Copa do Brasil) is disputed in the first half of the year and it’s the only national competition that involves teams from all Brazilian states, who classify through state championships in the year before. The champion of the Brasil Cup wins a spot in next season’s Latin American Libertadores Cup.
The Brazilian Championship, also known as the Brasileirão, takes place between May and December. This championship consists of two stages. The team that earns the highest number of points becomes champion. By winning this tournament, teams are guaranteed a spot in the continent’s major competitions, the Libertadores and Sul-Americana. Losing teams are demoted to the second division.
Unfortunately, the Brasileirão suffers from very poor timing; the start of the Brasileirão coincides with the July and August contract negotiations in Europe and elsewhere, when many players travel to discuss their transfer options abroad. The competition also coincides with the decisive rounds of the Copa Libertadores and its final games coincide with the Copa Sul-Americana.
Did you know?…
The yell “olé” was invented in 1958, when Botafogo and River Plate confronted each other in Mexico City. Brazilian player Garrincha kept dribbling Argentinean defender Vairo, who became mad as a bull when he couldn’t get the ball. In leaving the field, Vairo turned to coach Minela and said: “there is nothing I can do, it’s impossible to defend him”.
The team with the largest numbers of fans in the world is Flamengo, with more than 35 million fans.
Brazilian striker Fabinho scored the fastest goal in the history of FIFA competitions, by scoring 9 seconds into the game against New Zealand, in the Sub-17 World Cup, on August 18th of 2007.
The Brazilian teams in the A-division of the 2010 Brazilian Championship are: Atlético Goianiense, Atlético Mineiro, Atlético Paranaense, Avaí, Barueri, Botafogo, Ceará, Cruzeiro, Corinthians, Flamengo, Fluminense, Goiás, Grêmio, Guarani, Internacional, Palmeiras, Santos, São Paulo, Vasco and Vitória.