World Cup: Brazil’s ’24’ shirt comes out of the closet in Qatar

Defender Bremer wears Sele's number 24 shirt
photo: Nelson Almeida/AFP

Defender Bremer wears the number 24 shirt of the Brazilian National Team during the World Cup in Qatar

Avoided for decades in Brazilian football due to homophobia, the “24” jersey made its first appearance for the Selection in World Cups this Friday (2nd), through fellow debutant Bremer.

Considered a taboo by Brazilians, the number came out of the closet precisely in a country that criminalizes homosexuality. Coincidence? Maybe a little, but the Selection just followed FIFA’s rule of keeping the fixed number of players in the World Cup from number one to 26 (total number of players called up).

And the chosen one for the ’24’ was defender Bremer, who before the Cup accumulated only 44 minutes played by the Selecao and who also made his debut in the competition in the 1-0 defeat by Camares.

The Juventus defender played both halves against the Africans in the third round of Group G. Even with the defeat, Brazil maintained the leadership of the group. Thus, the next challenge will be against South Korea, on Monday (5).

“For me, any shirt is like any other, the important thing is to be in the World Cup, the number doesn’t matter”, said the player a week and a half ago.

an old taboo

The pejorative association of the number ’24’ in Brazil is old and goes back to the animal game.

In the game, the deer, an animal belonging to the Cervidae family, as well as the deer, are represented by this number, which, over the decades, has been associated with homosexual people, showing that prejudice was socially constructed over time.

The denunciation transcended different spheres of Brazilian society, including football, which records daily attacks on homosexuals and transsexuals.

As a way of fighting and criminalizing homophobia, the LGBTQIA+ community began to use the number, mainly in football, on commercial shirts from inclusive organizations and in neighborhood tournaments organized by LGBTQIA+ teams.

“It’s great to see this happening right in this scenario”

The explanation, however, is not marked by activism, but rather by FIFA’s fixed and sequential numbering rules, which for the 2022 World Cup announced the possibility of calling up 26 players, unlike previous editions, in which 23 names were considered from 2002.

“We would have loved it if it had been an activism action, like those carried out by other teams, but it is great to see this happening in this scenario”, said Railson Oliveira, founder of FieL LGBT, Corinthians LGBTQIA+ fans, AFP.

Until Friday, there were at least two records of the use of this shirt in Selecao games, both in friendly matches, in which there are usually no rigid numerical rules: the forwards Taison, in the 3-1 victory over Japan, in November 2017 , and Roberto Firmino, in the 3-0 victory over Ghana, in September, although the Liverpool player did not enter the field.

A taboo in deconstruction

Last year, the Selecao had the chance to use the number 24 in the Copa América, in which it was allowed to call up to 28 players due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

However, that is not what happened. While the other teams used the number normally in their squads, coach Tite listed the 24 athletes who would play in the competition, but the designations went from number one to 23 and then jumped to number 25, used by defensive midfielder Douglas Luiz.

An NGO considered the act homophobic and sued the Brazilian Football Confederation (CBF). The entity, however, argued that this number was more suitable for a midfielder and the case was closed.

But times seem to change.

The CBF supported the Gay Pride Parade in Rio de Janeiro, last Sunday (27).

Through the streets of the capital of Rio de Janeiro, and with the support of the football entity, a gigantic shirt of the Selection with the number 24 and an armband with the colors of the rainbow was displayed.

“We feel an air of maturity, we know that one thing has nothing to do with the other, in the sense of a number determined by someone’s sexual orientation. However, we cannot say anything with such certainty”, concluded Railson.

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