FEATURE-Soccer-Brazil still in love with iconic strip
By Steve Keating
PORTO ALEGRE, Brazil, June 13 (Reuters) - It is more identifiable than the Brazilian flag, more instantly recognisable than Pele or Ronaldo or any of the illustrious players who have worn the world's most famous sporting kit.
It is a uniform worth a reported $1.6 billion to American sports apparel giant Nike, which entered into a rights deal with the Brazilian Football Confederation (CBF) in 1996 to market the strip designed 61 years ago by Aldyr Garcia Schlee, a young cartoonist and prize-winning author.
For Brazilians, the canary yellow jersey, blue shorts and white socks are more than a uniform, they have become part of their identity, a symbol of national pride as the country bids for a record sixth World Cup in the iconic colours.
Like almost every aspect of Brazilian football, the creation of the national team uniform is a tale rooted in romance.
But for Garcia Schlee it was an affair that ended in disillusionment and love lost, the award-winning novelist and journalist who gave the country one of its proudest symbols landing in prison during Brazil's military dictatorship period and turning his soccer allegiance to Uruguay.
"There's definitely a romance about the Brazilian attitude to the game and their philosophy on exciting, attacking football mirrors our own," Nike spokesman Charlie Brooks said.
"For many fans, historically, Brazil was everybody's second team and the World Cup being held here will reinforce that.
"The yellow jersey is so recognisable, it's an icon in its own right in world football and our partnership with Brazil has been crucial in our journey from being a newcomer in football in the mid-1990's to the world's leading football brand today. Continuación...