Brasil / Brazil
- Capital: Brasília
- Official Languages: Portuguese
- Nicknames: Seleção (The National Team); Canarinho (Little Canary); As Canarinhas (The Female Canaries); Verde-Amarela (The Green and Yellow); Esquadrão de Ouro (The Golden Squad)
- Association: Confederação Brasileira de Futebol (CBF)
- FIFA Code: BRA
- Best World Cup Result (Men): WINNERS (1958, 1962, 1970, 1994 & 2002)
- Best World Cup Result (Women): Finalists (2007)
- Best Copa América Result (Men): WINNERS (9 times)
- Best Copa América Result (Women): WINNERS (7 times)
- Highest FIFA Ranking (Men): 1st (Various)
- Highest FIFA Ranking (Women): 2nd (March 2009)
- Lowest FIFA Ranking (Men): 22nd (June 2013)
- Lowest FIFA Ranking (Women): 11th (September 2019)
- Most Capped Player: Formiga – 200 caps [as of March 2021]
- Top Scorer: Marta – 109 goals [as of March 2021]
The Federative Republic of Brazil (República Federativa do Brasil) is the largest country on the South American continent, as well as being the fifth-largest country in the world in regards to area, and the sixth most populous country in the world with over 211 million people living within its borders. Having declaring its independence from the Portuguese Empire in 1822, the country shares a border with nearly every other country on the continent (with the exception of Ecuador and Chile), with French Guiana, Suriname and Guyana (all CONCACAF nations) to the north, Venezuela and Colombia to the northwest, Peru and Bolivia to the west, Paraguay and Argentina to its southwest, and finally Uruguay to its south.
As well as being one of the world’s biggest countries, Brazil is undoubtedly one of world football’s superpowers, if not the world’s biggest footballing nation. Football was brought to Brazil by the British railway and dock workers in the late 19th century, with the CBF being founded in 1914 and joining FIFA in 1923. They competed in the very first World Cup in 1930 and are the ONLY nation to have qualified and played in every edition of the global tournament, even hosting the tournament on two occasions: 1950 and 2014. Alas on both occasions where home victories were expected by their passionate supporters, heartbreaking defeats occurred which stopped the Seleção from lifting the trophy on home soil (see the Maracanazo and Mineirazo events). Nonetheless, the Brazilians have been very successful in the World Cup having won the tournament on a record five occasions, and becoming the first nation to win it three times and thus permanently keeping the old Jules Rimet Trophy. The winning team of the 1970 World Cup is highly regarded as the best ever team to have been assembled in football, with their brand of entertaining, attacking football being played by some of the all-time best players in football, such as Pelé, Jairzinho, Carlos Alberto, Gérson, Tostão, Rivellino, et al.
The Brazilians have continued to produce many of the world’s best-ever players throughout the decades with such talents like Zico, Socrates, Romário, Ronaldo, Ronaldinho, Rivaldo, Kaká, etc, all shining brightly for the Seleção. Despite such talent, their last World Cup victory came in 2002 when they beat Germany 2-0 in the final, which was dubbed the “Ronaldo Final” after the mercurial striker grabbed a brace. In the most recent World Cup, the Seleção reached the quarter-finals of the 2018 edition before being dispatched by the Belgians 2-1 in Kazan. Despite this disappointment, Brazil won the 2019 Copa América on home soil (their 9th continental championship) and continues to maintain their high FIFA World Ranking. They will certainly be one of the favourites for the 2022 World Cup, and with the Brazilians having waited 28 years for their first World Cup, 24 years for their fourth after the heroics of 1970, perhaps their sixth will appear after a 20 year wait?
Talking about a side who are unquestionably the most successful and iconic football nations in world football, we interviewed the excellent Anna Evans. Anna is a very talented São Paolo-based Welsh freelance football writer who specialises on writing articles about Brazilian football and South American football on the whole. To find their social media accounts, follow the links below:
- Twitter: @AnnaGoleador
Q. Who would you say is your country’s best player and coach/manager of all-time, and the reasonings behind the choices?
Brazil has had almost unrivalled talent on the football pitch since the dawn of the international game, and so to choose just one player as the greatest of all time is a monumental task. But it would be blasphemous not to place the proverbial crown on the head of Pelé, because after all, he is not known as ‘The King’ for no reason. A three-time World Cup winner with the Seleção in 1958, 1962, and 1970, his greatness has not been matched by any other male footballer for Brazil. However, having said this, I think that each generation of fans has its own Brazilian idol, whether it is Zico, Romario, Ronaldinho, or Ronaldo, a case can be made for the greatness of each one.
While the men’s team has ‘King Pele’, the women’s team have ‘Queen Marta’, who, as well as being the best footballer to play for the Canarinhas, is also considered to be one of the greatest female players of all-time. Marta is a phenomenal striker and she holds the distinction of being Brazil’s all-time leading goal-scorer, in both the women’s and the men’s game, with 109 goals in total. A six-time winner of the FIFA Player of the Year award, Marta is not just an astounding footballer, but she is also a brilliant ambassador of the women’s game, both domestically and abroad.
As for the best manager of all-time, it’s hard to overlook Telê Santana, who as the coach of the Seleção in the 1980s, became renowned worldwide as the creator and promulgator of the Jogo Bonito style that was synonymous with Brazilian football at the time. Telê Santana was more of a romantic than a pragmatist and never won a single trophy as the coach of the national team. Instead, he has gone down in the history books as the manager of the Brazilian squad during their so-called glorious failures at the 1982 and 1986 World Cups. But despite his shortcomings on the international stage, Santana and his Brazilian team inspired a whole generation of football fans with the poetic flair of the Jogo Bonito which is why he is still highly regarded as one of the best Brazilian managers of all-time.
Q. Who could be regarded as a ‘cult hero’ in terms of the national team both in the past and present?
The Brazilian national team has always been renowned for having a few colourful characters both on and off the pitch. One of the most famous from the male team is Josimar, who as a relatively unknown uncapped player, made his first appearance for the Brazilian national team in the 1986 World Cup. Josmiar was not even in the squad for the first two matches against Spain and Algeria, but was later called-up by Telê Santana to replace an injured Leandro. He scored in his debut match for the Seleção against Northern Ireland, and once more in their last-16 fixture against Poland, before the Canaries were knocked-out on penalties by France in the quarter-finals. Josimar made sporadic appearances for Brazil over the next few years until both his international and domestic career fizzled-out in the 1990s.
Meanwhile, the women’s team has a much more accomplished cult hero in Formiga, the 43-year-old midfielder still active for both club and country. Formiga has been involved in the game for decades, and was even born at a time when women’s football was illegal in Brazil because, in this period, the government believed that the sport was too masculine for women and girls to play. The ban was not overturned until 1981 when Formiga was 3-years-old. In her international career, Formiga has starred in 7 World Cups which is unbelievable considering that there have only been 8 editions of the women’s competition which started in 1991. She has also represented Brazil in every single Olympic Games since women’s football was added to the agenda in 1996. Her prominence and longevity in football is completely unrivalled by any other athlete, whether male or female.
Q. Of the current team, who would you say is the best player from Brazil currently?
Brazil has a fair amount of talent in their squad at the moment with almost all of the team playing their club football in the top tiers of Europe. I would pick out both Gabriel Jesus and Richarlison as a pair of star strikers for the Seleção, while former Paris-Saint-Germain teammates, Marquinhos and Thiago Silva are indispensable forces in defence. I also think that Neymar and his talents are a key component for the Brazilian team, so long as he can stay away from his recurrent injuries.
Meanwhile the Canarinhas have some super talent based both domestically and abroad. The two that stand out the most for me are Marta, a stalwart force in the Brazilian attack, as well as Debinha, a tenacious forward with a good eye for a goal. Both players play their club football in the National Women’s Soccer League in the United States, which is widely regarded as one of the best leagues in the world for women’s football.
Q. How would you describe the current state/performance of the national team?
The men’s team seem to have returned to decent form under the guidance of Tite who took over the top job as national coach in 2016. To give an idea of their recent successes, the Seleção won the 2019 Copa America that was staged on home-soil in Brazil. This was the first time the Brazilian team advanced past the quarter-final stage since they last won the contest in 2007. The squad has also looked good in their most recent World Cup qualifiers where they cruised past opponents Bolivia, Peru, Venezuela, and Uruguay with relative ease. It still remains to be seen whether Brazil can maintain their fine form in international competitions, but right now, things are looking up for the Seleção.
The women’s team have also gone from strength-to-strength under Swedish coach, Pia Sundhage, who took charge in 2019. Brazil is ranked 8th in the world at the moment, a two-fold increase from their position in the table just two years ago. I think that team put in a fine performance at the 2021 SheBelieves Cup, where they finished second behind the United States after beating Argentina and Canada in the mini-tournament. I think Brazil are certainly moving in the correct direction and could without a doubt challenge some big-hitters for a podium spot at this year’s Olympic Games.
Q. Are there any Brazilian players who you think we should be focusing on for the future – who would you say is the most exciting up & coming talent from the country?
There are a number of absolute gems currently playing their club football in the Brasileirão, the domestic league of Brazil, who could have a massive impact on the Seleção in the near future. The main up-and-coming talent in this pool is Gabriel Veron, an 18-year-old wonderkid who played an instrumental part in propelling Palemrias to their recent win at the 2020 Copa Libertadores. Although the youngster has yet to make his senior debut, Gabriel Veron did star for the Seleção in their under-17 World Cup winning campaign in 2019 wherein he also came away with the Golden Ball award. He is without a doubt a talent to watch for the future.
The women’s Brasileirão is also filled with uncovered talent who are in line for a call-up to the Brazil squad in the near future. Most of these are not teenage wonderkids, but rather, they are players with a few years of domestic experience under their belts but have not yet had a chance to shine at the international level. One such name is Aline Milene, a 26-year-old who had an important role in Ferroviaria’s recent Libertadores Feminina winning campaign, wherein she scored a penalty in the final against America de Cali. The midfielder has been capped just twice by the national team, but I’m sure that her performance in the continental competition has turned some heads in the Seleção set-up.
Q. Looking at Brazil’s glorious international history, what would you say has been the best game, result, or performance for the national team in your opinion?
This is an impossible question for anyone who follows the Brazilian national team, because the Seleção have shined in innumerable matches throughout the years. But I think most would agree that their performance at the 1970 World Cup in Mexico was one of the greatest in the history of the competition. A number of factors came together to produce a scintillating show, from the constant goals of Jairzinho, to the boundless talents of Pelé. It was a tournament for the ages that remains incomparable with any other World Cup.
I think the greatest performance of the Brazilian women’s team came in the semi-finals of the 2007 World Cup when the Canarinhas defeated the United States to an astonishing four goals to nil. The ever-brilliant Marta scored twice in this match and Christiane, another legend of the Brazilian team scored another to pile on the damage against the Americans. Brazil finished runners-up in the competition after losing to Germany in the final, however, this performance remains to be their best result in any World Cup competition.
Q. Likewise, is there a performance or result which is regarded as the team’s lowest point?
It is good to remember that what would be considered a low-point in Brazilian football would probably be thought of as a pretty decent outcome in other countries! But having said this, the national team did go through quite a rough patch between 2014 and 2016 which all began with that famous 7-1 loss against Germany in the semi-finals of the 2014 World Cup. I think this match single-handedly goes down as the biggest disappointment in Brazilian football since the notorious Maracanaço in 1950, when Brazil, firm favourites to win their first World Cup in the hallowed grounds of the Maracanã, lost in the finals against Uruguay.
The Seleção suffered even more discontent in the 2016 Copa América Centenario when a Brazilian team fielding talent such as Philippe Coutinho, Willian, Dani Alves, Marquinhos, and Alisson, failed to progress out of the group stages of the competition. Brazil was knocked-out after a dramatic loss to Peru and an unexpected draw against Ecuador. It was the first time since 1987 that Brazil had failed to advance past the group rounds in the Copa América. Safe to say that this result did not go down well at home as the team coach, Dunga was sacked soon afterwards!
Since the women’s side started to play professionally in the mid-80s, the team have experienced relative success in both South America and abroad. I think perhaps their loss in the 2006 Copa América finals can be classed as a slight ‘low-point’ for the team because it remains to be the sole edition of the contest that Brazil did not win. The Seleção have won 7 out of 8 Copa America titles, but lost to arch-rivals, Argentina in 2006. No doubt this loss is a blemish on what is otherwise an impeccable continental record for the women in yellow-and-green!
Q. What are the best and worst things about being a fan of the Brazilian national team?
The most wonderful thing about being a fan of the Seleção is the openness and unbounded friendliness of Brazilians towards outsiders. All you need to do is just wave the flag and yell ‘Vamos Brasil!’ and you’re all set! The atmosphere on match days is just fantastic, whether you are watching the game at the stadium or on the TV surrounded by a bunch of passionate fans. It is a great vibe all-round!
I think the worst part about being a fan of the Brazilian team is that the famous shirt of the Seleção has been appropriated in recent years by the political right-wing within Brazil. As a consequence, it is not recommended to wear the yellow-and-green shirt outside of competition times to avoid being mistaken as a supporter of the right-wing president. It is unfortunate that a shirt with so much history is now being used as a tool to promulgate a violent brand of nationalism.
Q. Have the fans adopted some kind of unofficial anthem to sing along to before/during/after matches?
A group of fans became quite well-known in Brazil during the last two World Cups for penning catchy tunes to show their support for the Seleção. The trend started in 2014 with their song, ‘Mil Gols‘ or ‘A Thousand Goals’ in English which paid tribute to Pelé and his goalscoring exploits for club and country. The tradition continued in the 2018 World Cup with their most recent hit, ‘Único Penta é o Brasilzão‘ which can loosely be translated as ‘The Only Five-Time Champion is the Great Brazil’. I’m sure another tune is already in the works for next year’s World Cup in Qatar!
Q. Do you have a favourite or iconic shirt from the whole time of the national team?
All of the canary yellow kits of Brazil are iconic in their own right; however, I’m quite partial to the shirt worn at the 2002 World Cup. It was the first to feature both Ronaldo and Ronaldinho at the same time, two stars of my generation, and it was also the last time Brazil were crowned champions of the world. It is an absolute iconic kit from and iconic era.
Q. Finally, what are your hopes for the future of the Brazilian national team?
Prospects for the national team are always bright, however, the high expectations placed on the Seleção can cause the team to come crashing down in an instant. The main hope is that Brazil can defend their Copa América title this summer against some pretty stiff competition from around the continent. I am also looking forward to spot some young Brazilian talent at this year’s Summer Olympics in Tokyo and to also see if the next generation can defend the gold medal won by Brazil at the 2014 Rio Olympics against competition from around the globe.
As for the women’s team, I am also looking forward to their appearance at the Olympic Games. I hope that the Canarinhas can win their first gold medal to add to their two silvers from 2004 and 2008. The Tokyo games will surely be Formiga’s last Olympics as a player and so it would be brilliant to see her go out with a bang.
A massive muito obrigado to Anna for answering our questions on the Seleção and the Canarinhas. Remember you can find their social media accounts in the links at the top of the blogpage.
If you have any comments, suggestions, reactions, or even your own answers to the above questions, please write them in the comments box below. Likewise, you can either email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or send a message at @The94thMin on Twitter.