RIO DE JANEIRO, Brazil – The Brazilian national soccer team couldn't have picked a bigger stage to unveil a new jersey its players will occasionally wear instead of their traditional yellow one: Carnival
The biggest party on the planet that was attended by thousands of spectators, including numerous celebrities, was the backdrop for Nike, one of the team's official sponsors, to present its masterpiece on Feb. 14.
The blue jersey with tiny yellow dots will accompany the team to South Africa, where the squad seeks an unprecedented sixth World Cup title when the events kicks off on June 11.
But the blue jersey isn't the only change in the team's wardrobe. Nike also altered the team's primary yellow jersey, which will be revealed in London on Feb. 25.
Nike won’t disclose the yellow jersey’s alterations, which were made by Nike and the Brazilian confederation of soccer (CBF), but promises it will introduce the uniform with much fanfare in England’s capital.
“I can only say in advance that it is very beautiful and fit for a team as great as ours,” João Chueiri, soccer marketing manager at Nike Brazil says. “Therefore, the team always has a new jersey for the American Cup and for the World Cup, two of the most important tournaments on the calendar.”
Brazil, which has qualified for all 19 World Cups, has won the event a record five times, with its most recent title in 2002.
It is the favorite to win it all this year, too.
There are numerous differences in the new blue jersey with tiny yellow dots: a yellow crewneck; stripes along the shoulders; the word “Brazil” stitched on the back of the jersey; and five small stars representing each World Cup championship stitched atop the team’s logo on the breast.
The shorts for the blue jersey are white with a blue stripe that runs along the side of each leg. The socks are blue, with a yellow stripe and feature the word “Brazil” written along the side.
The official blue jersey – the one worn by the national team’s players – sells for R$239.90 (US$133.27), with the replica version costing R$199.90 (US$111).
Chueiri says that Nike won’t reveal its sales expectations.
“But in the year of the World Cup we are very optimistic,” he says. “The sales usually increase, but I cannot reveal how much. I just hope we have a great increase in sales in 2010.”
Of the two jerseys, the players wear the yellow jersey much more frequently in international competitions. But when they don the blue – the color symbolizing Our Lady of Aparecida, Brazil’s patron saint – it brings out the team’s best.
The players first donned the blue jersey against Sweden in the championship game of the 1958 World Cup because the Swedes – the tournament’s host – wore yellow jerseys, forcing Brazil to change since teams are prohibited from wearing uniforms of the same color.
The result: Brazil 5, Sweden 2, giving the country its first title.
Brazilians view the blue jersey as their team’s lucky charm, a belief bolstered by the fact the squad has never lost a World Cup game when sporting blue.