The Far Right has co-opted Brazil’s National Soccer Jersey

  • Rioters in Brazil: Thousands who stormed the national congress wore the same shirt.
  • Bolsonaro has taken the jersey of Brazil’s national soccer team for many years.
  • Since the 1960s, Brazilian authoritarian forces have used the yellow shirt for political purposes.

Many of the ex-President Jair Bolsonaro’s supporters in Brazil rioted at the capital on Sunday. Many of them wore shirts with the national symbol that the former right-wing leader had made.

Bolsonaro’s supporters stormed Brazil’s parliament, presidential palace and supreme court in Brasilia after months of protests against Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva’s 2022 election. eerily similar to the January 6, 2021 insurrectionThe USA.

Photos showed a sea of yellow, with many rioters wearing the Brazilian national soccer team’s iconic canary-colored jersey — which has a long history of being co-opted by right-wing forces in Brazil.

Supporters of Brazil's far-right former President Jair Bolsonaro who dispute the election of leftist President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva gather at Planalto Palace after invading the building as well as the Congress and Supreme Court, in Brasilia, Brazil January 8, 2023.

Brazil’s far-right former President Jair Bolsonaro and his supporters, who disagree with the election by leftist President LuizInacio Lula Da Silva, gather at Planalto Palace, after they invade the Congress and Supreme Court buildings in Brasilia, Brazil, January 8, 2023.


Bolsonaro has asked his supporters to vote for the jersey

Bolsonaro — who has yet to formally concede his recent election loss — made the jersey a symbol for his supporters as early as 2015, when he became the center of a movement to unseat former Brazilian president Dilma Rousseff. He had already won the 2018 election and urged his supporters in 2022 to “vote yellow” according to The Athletic.

Brazil’s most well-known player, Neymar has appeared as one of Bolsonaro’s biggest supportersBolsonaro was endorsed multiple times by him and he elevated the link between the jersey & Bolsonaro. Bolsonaro, who was smiling ear to eye as he recited the victory of Brazil’s national soccer team in the 2019 Copa America, sat with the players and trophy.

As they continued their assault on democracy, thousands of Brazilians wore this jersey Sunday. 

Security forces detain supporters of Brazil's former President Jair Bolsonaro during a demonstration against President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, in Brasilia, Brazil, January 8, 2023.

Security forces detain supporters Brazil’s former President Jair Bolsonaro, during a demonstration against President LuizInacio Lula Silva, Brasilia (Brazil), January 8, 2023.

Adriano Machado/Reuters

Brazil’s soccer association has spoken out about the riots

Brazil’s Ministry of Justice stated that more than 1,000 people had been detained. according to CNN. Bolsonaro is currently in Florida seeking medical treatment.

Brazil’s capital scene last week drew condemnation from the Brazilian Football Confederation. This is a typically outwardly political organization.

The CBF stated that the Brazilian national team shirt is a symbol for the joy of our people. tweetedMonday. It’s to cheer up, energize, and love the country. We urge that the shirt not be used to divide Brazilians, but rather unite them. 

Supporters of Brazil's former President Jair Bolsonaro demonstrate against President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, outside Planalto Palace in Brasilia, Brazil, January 8, 2023.

Outside Planalto Palace, Brasilia, Brazil, January 8, 2023, protestors of Brazil’s former President Jair Bolsonaro against President Luiz Ignacios Lula da Silva

Ueslei Marcelino/Reuters

The right-wing  in Brazil has used the shirt for politics since the 1960s

A newspaper held a contest to design a new national kit for 1953. The winner was a yellow-green model. The white-and-blue kit was left behind.

The appropriation of Brazil’s Seleção Canarinho (little canary) shirt, the national team’s vibrant yellow jersey with green trim, goes back to the days of the country’s military dictatorship from 1964 to 1985, a time period when Brazil won the 1970 World Cup with Pelé starring.

“Under [Emilio]David Goldblatt wrote that Medici, the military would use soccer as an example of the unified and morally upright Brazil it was trying create in “Futebol Nation”: A Footballing History Of Brazil. “The reality was often less exciting.”

Pele 1970 World Cup.

Pele 1970 World Cup.

Photo by Getty Images

During a period of hyperinflation, cultural censorship, and political repression, Brazil’s dictatorship centered soccer and the national team as the ultimate expression of patriotic consciousness – a move that Bolsonaro, who was an army captain during the dictatorship, replicated with his supporters. 

Brazil’s win in the 1970 World Cup helped the dictatorship to claim the national team’s colors at the world stage. Success on the pitch was reframed by Brazil as a sign of strength for its nationalism.

Goldblatt wrote, “The 1970 World was first of its kind to broadcast in color, and this gives it, for all those who saw, a kind chromatic magic.” “Brazil’s yellow shirts shimmered and sparkled in the blistering white sunlight of the Mexican noon — the appointed time of kick-offs to support European TV schedules.”

Brazil’s national football team wore the jersey just months ago at the 2022 FIFA World Cup, Qatar. There, players like Neymar or Richarlison ripped apart defenses and danced while celebrating wins during a short-lived run into the quarter-finals. A new administration is working to fix the jersey’s tangled image.

Security forces detain supporters of Brazil's former President Jair Bolsonaro during a demonstration against President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, outside Planalto Palace in Brasilia, Brazil, January 8, 2023.

Ueslei Marcelino/Reuters

It is possible to re-appropriate shirt on left

During da Silva’s first weeks as a leader, he has already tried to remove the jersey from the hands of the right wing. Now that the jersey has become partially synonymous with being Bolsonarista, according to The Guardian.

“We shouldn’t be ashamed to wear our green and white shirt,” da Silva declared in late November to The Guardian.[It]It doesn’t belong one candidate. It doesn’t belong to any one party. This country is loved by 213 million people who love green and yellow.

Da Silva said he’d go back to wearing the jersey with the number 13 — the number of the Worker’s party — and made his design available for soccer fans to downloadAs a political statement, add to their jersey.

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