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Why The Brazilian Soccer Team Wouldn't Wear White - Until Now

Juan Alberto Schiaffino of Uruguay score in the 66th minute of the infamous 'Maracanazo' match
Juan Alberto Schiaffino of Uruguay score in the 66th minute of the infamous "Maracanazo" match

"In Japan, white is the color of mourning." So wrote Samuel French in his play All the Way Home. Or at least that's the line as I remember it from my high-school theater days.

White is also the color that the Brazilian national soccer team was wearing in the infamous "Maracanazo" match, a decisive showdown against Uruguay in the 1950 World Cup.

Playing in Rio de Janeiro's Estádio do Maracanã, the home team had the crowd in its corner and a one-point advantage in the round-robin phase then used to determine the Cup champion. Brazil didn't even need to beat Uruguay that day — July 16 — to hoist the trophy. All they needed was to avoid defeat.

The match was scoreless at the halfway mark, but shortly after play resumed, Brazil's Friaça snuck one past the Uruguayan goalkeeper to put the locals up 1-0. Uruguay equalized nearly 20 minutes later. But with the clock ticking down, Brazil still had the advantage.

Then, the unfathomable occurred: a 79th-minute goal by Uruguay's Alcides Ghiggia, who was the last surviving player of the Maracanazo when he died exactly 65 years later, on July 16, 2015. "La Celeste," as the Uruguayan team is known, went on to win the match and the World Cup — for the second time.

Brazil would, of course, enjoy its own success in subsequent World Cups, but the stinging loss to Uruguay in 1950 is still a bitter memory for the soccer-mad, Portuguese-speaking nation. The result was so agonizing, in fact, that the team stopped wearing white jerseys altogether, opting instead for the now familiar green and gold. White had become the color of defeat.

Nearly 70 years later, however, Brazil is ready to tempt fate, it appears. In June, Brazil will host South America's most important international tournament, the Copa America. And when they take the field, the Brazilian players will once again be wearing white, rising star and Real Madrid striker Vinicius Jr. revealed recently.

Why the sudden change of heart? For good luck of course (and perhaps to earn millions in apparel sales). It turns out that the new white jerseys are in homage to the team's 1919 uniforms. Brazil hosted the Copa America that year too — and won — beating none other than? You guessed it: Uruguay.

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Society

Influencer Union? The Next Labor Rights Battle May Be For Social Media Creators

With the end of the Hollywood writers and actors strikes, the creator economy is the next frontier for organized labor.

​photograph of a smartphone on a selfie stick

Smartphone on a selfie stick

Steve Gale/Unsplash
David Craig and Stuart Cunningham

Hollywood writers and actors recently proved that they could go toe-to-toe with powerful media conglomerates. After going on strike in the summer of 2023, they secured better pay, more transparency from streaming services and safeguards from having their work exploited or replaced by artificial intelligence.

But the future of entertainment extends well beyond Hollywood. Social media creators – otherwise known as influencers, YouTubers, TikTokers, vloggers and live streamers – entertain and inform a vast portion of the planet.

✉️ You can receive our Bon Vivant selection of fresh reads on international culture, food & travel directly in your inbox. Subscribe here.

For the past decade, we’ve mapped the contours and dimensions of the global social media entertainment industry. Unlike their Hollywood counterparts, these creators struggle to be seen as entertainers worthy of basic labor protections.

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