Founded in 1914 and affiliated to FIFA since 1923, the Confederaçao Brasileira de Futebol (CBF) boasts a staggering list of honours: five FIFA World Cups™, eight Copa Americas, four FIFA Under-20 World Cups, three FIFA Under-17 World Cups, two FIFA Confederations Cups, four FIFA Futsal World Cups, three FIFA Beach Soccer World Cups and dozens of continental trophies. Few federations have left anything like the same mark on international football.
In fact, the only sour note for the country that produced Pele came in the final of ‘their’ 1950 FIFA World Cup. Watched by 174,000 stunned supporters packed into the mythical Maracana stadium, the Seleçao let the fourth edition of the Jules Rimet Cup slip from their grasp in a 2-1 defeat to Uruguay.
Football occupies pride of place in Brazil, and although Brazilians are also passionate about volleyball, basketball, tennis, formula-one and other motor sports, only the legendary Ayrton Senna is revered in quite the same way as the country’s most famous exponents of ‘the beautiful game’.
Chief among them is O Rei, Pele, whose name is almost synonymous with Brazilian sport itself, but a whole raft of unique talents have worn the Seleção shirt with distinction down the years: Leonidas, Garrincha, Didi, Vava, Zagallo, Tostão, Zico, Jairzinho, Carlos Alberto, Socrates, Bebeto, Romario, Cafu, Ronaldo and Roberto Carlos. The list of players who have etched their names into the collective memory is quite literally breathtaking.
Brazilian football continues to produce exceptional new talents, and these days it is superstars Ronaldinho (Ronaldo de Assis Moreira) and Kaka (Ricardo Izecson Santos Leite) who are thrilling football-lovers the world over.