White shirt means danger but Brazil opt to take the risk

REUTERS/Henry Romero

When hosts Brazil run out for their Copa America opener against Bolivia on Friday they will be wearing a white shirt in a competitive match for the first time in more than 60 years.

In a world where teams wear three different shirts each year – some of them in colours that have little or nothing to do with their history or tradition – Brazil have deliberately avoided wearing white in competitive games since 1957.

What might be a minor detail to other nations is a big deal for Brazil, for whom the white shirt means failure.

Brazil wore white when they lost the final match of the 1950 World Cup to Uruguay and when they were beaten by Paraguay in the final of the 1953 South American championship, the forerunner to the Copa America.

The reverses prompted the authorities to launch a contest to design a new strip and the famous canary yellow shirt was born.

Since then, wearing yellow or their change shirt of blue, Brazil have won five World Cups, more than any other nation.

The Brazilian Football Confederation said they were choosing to wear white again in tribute to the 1919 Brazil side that won their first South American Championship.

It may be a risk in this superstitious nation but there is one omen on their side – Brazil have hosted the Copa America four times and won it every time whichever colour they wore.