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RIO DE JANEIRO – It’s probably the most recognizable soccer shirt out there: canary yellow with bright green trim. Brazil have worn it in all five of their record World Cup titles. But at home, the national colors have been mired in controversy after far-right President Jair Bolsonaro adopted them as emblems of his brand of nationalist politics.
Bolsonaristasthe president’s followers are known to wear jerseys and wrap themselves in the Brazilian flag at marches and rallies supporting his conservative religion. anti-LGBTQ and anti-gun rights messages.
Bolsonaro downplayed the coronavirus pandemic and controlled the devastating COVID-19 death toll. He cut Amazon protections, causing record deforestation. He tried to challenge the election results after electoral authorities declared the victory of his rival, President-elect Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, last month.
In Brazil, the yellow shirt has become the equivalent of the red MAGA hat worn by followers of Bolsonaro’s ally, former President Donald Trump.
Soccer fan Vanessa Morales says she can’t wear the Seleção’s jersey during this year’s World Cup.
“I’m not going to wear green or yellow,” he says, not wanting to be confused with Bolsonaro’s supporters. He will instead wear the red and black jersey of his local team, Flamengo. “It is difficult that a [political] The party ruled over our shirts.”
But he hopes that when Lula takes office in January, more Brazilians will be wearing the national football jersey again.
Redemption of yellow
Supporters of newly elected President Lula are selling their own version of the national uniform in bright yellow and green. It has a small picture of Lula on the front and 13 – his election candidate number – on the back.
Salesman Renato Monteiro says he has sold 20,000 T-shirts to Lula voters in the past two months.
“They’re taking the symbol because Bolsonaro thinks it’s his, but in fact it wasn’t his, it belonged to the people. We saved the symbol of our country,” he says from his small stand at a weekend outdoor market in Rio. de Janeiro.
Brazil’s football confederation, the CBF, is neutral on the political front, but has launched a campaign to encourage citizens to rally around the jersey and the team. And Brahma, one of the country’s biggest beer companies, is urging Brazilians to dress up during the World Cup.
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In a country where football is practically a religion, perhaps there will come a time when Brazilians will forget what separates them and unite under one color, yellow.
Thursday is the first opportunity to do so at the 2022 World Cup – when Brazil play Serbia in Doha at 14:00 EST (16:00 Brazil time).