Hidden symbols of World Cup uniforms

Stars? Lions? Eagles? Snakes?

If you look closely, they're all there on World Cup uniforms.

Why and what do they mean?

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Here's a look at the hidden symbols and explanations of the uniforms worn by the 32 teams in the 2014 FIFA World Cup.

GROUP A

Brazil: The five stars symbolize the five World Cups Brazil has won. "CBF" stands for Confederacao Brasileira de Futebol. Colors in the crest – yellow, green and blue – are that of Brazil's flag.

Mexico: The current crest, used since 1994, is the fourth in Mexico's history. The words emblazoned on the crest, "Federation Mexican de Futbol Association A.C.," represent the name of the Mexican soccer organization. Symbols on the badge are a soccer ball, an Aztec calendar and the same eagle fighting a snake that appears on the Mexican flag.

Cameroon: Green, yellow and red are the colors of the Cameroon flag. "FECA FOOT" is short for Federation Camerounaise de Football. The one star represents the star on Cameroon's flag, which is known as the "star of unity." There is also a representation of a soccer ball on the crest.

Croatia: Red and white checkerboard comes from Croatian coat of arms. Known as "the checkerboard," this coat of arms has represented Croatia since 1495. The letters "HNS" stands for "Hrvatska Nogometna Reprezentacija," which translates to Croatia men's national football team. The badge also features a depiction of a soccer ball.

GROUP B

Netherlands: The lion on the Dutch soccer badge is derived from the Netherlands coat of arms, which comes from the Dutch Republic Lion. Lions have long been used to symbolize the Netherlands since around the 1200s, an era when many Western European nations adopted the lion in their coats of arms. The letters KNVB stand for "Koninkijke Nederlands Voetbalbond," which translates to "Organization of Dutch Football."

Chile: Chile's badge closely resembles the nation's flag with the same red, white and blue color scheme and the same single star. On the Chilean flag, the star represents progress and honor. The words on the crest, "Federacion de Futbol de Chile," translate to "Chilean Football Federation."

Australia: Australia's badge is a variation on the Australian coat of arms and like the coat of arms, it features a kangaroo and an emu (the unofficial animals of Australia) squared off with a shield between them. In some versions there is a soccer ball between them instead of the shield.

Spain: Spain's badge is derived closely from Spain's coat of arms. Although the coat of arms has roots dating back centuries, it was only officially approved by law in 1981. The single star represents Spain's single World Cup win and the letters in the band at the bottom of the crest stand for "Real Federacion Espanola de Futbol." Below the words is an image of a soccer ball.

GROUP C

Colombia: Colombia's soccer badge is a representation of a soccer ball that incorporates the colors of the Colombian flag. The words are Spanish for Federation of Colombian Football.

Ivory Coast: Ivory Coast's badge features the colors of the Ivory Coast flag and an elephant with a soccer ball in its trunk. On the ball are the letters "FIF," French for Federation of Ivorian Football, French being the national language of Ivory Coast. Elephants are prevalent in the country and, in fact, the soccer team is nicknamed "The Elephants."

Japan: The letters JFA stand for Japan Football Association. The red and white colors on the crest come from the Japanese flag. The bird with its talon resting on a soccer ball is a three-legged crow, a bird that features heavily in Asian mythologies. In Japanese mythology, the bird is known as Yatagarasu and symbolizes divine intervention in human affairs.

Greece: Greece's badge is a version of the Greek flag, hung vertically rather than horizontally.

GROUP D

Costa Rica: Costa Rica's badge features the colors of the national flag displayed in a spiral tunnel design with the figure of a soccer player kicking a ball in the center. It's emblazoned with the name of the Costa Rican football association.

Italy: Italy's soccer badge features the colors of the Italian flag and four stars for the four World Cups Italy has won. The round object in the middle represents a soccer ball and the letters stand for Federation Italian Giuoco Calcio (Italian Football Federation.) The blue trim represents the blue uniforms worn by the Italian national team who are known as the Azzurri (the Blues). (Side note: Italy started wearing blue uniforms in 1911 – not red, white or green – because it was the color of the royal family.)

England: The England badge features three lions, which are the symbol of the English Football Association, or FA. The three lions' origins date back to the 12th century. Henry I, known as the Lion of England, married Adeliza whose father also had a lion on his shield, so Henry added the second. The third was added when Henry II married Eleanor of Aquitane who also had a lion on her family crest. Richard the Lionheart used the three lions as a symbol of the English throne and the symbol was adopted by the FA when it was formed in 1863. Since then it has only been modified once, in 1949 when a crown was removed from on top of the lions to differentiate the badge from that of the English cricket team. The single star above the crest represents England's lone World Cup victory in 1966.

Uruguay: The AUF on Uruguay's badge stands for Association Uruguayan Football. The blue and white strip behind the soccer ball represents the blue and white stripes of the Uruguayan flag. The four stars represent Uruguay's two Olympic and World Cup wins.

GROUP E

France: France's badge is adorned with one star for the single World Cup the French won in 1998. The three F's stand for Federation Francaise de Football. The chicken is actually a Gallic Rooster or Coq Gaulois, which was an emblem that decorated flags during the French Revolution.

Switzerland: The Swiss team's logo, ASF-SFV, represents the Swiss Football Association in its official languages – ASF representing French (Association Suisse de Football) and Italian (Associazione Svizzera di Football; SFV representing German, (Schweizerischer Fussballverband). The lined figure represents a soccer player kicking a ball.

 
 

Ecuador: Ecuador's badge features the same yellow, blue and red color bands as the nation's flag. The letters "F.E.F." appear emblazoned across the top yellow band, stands for "Federacion Ecuatoriana de Futbol." The bird that sits perched atop the badge is an Andean Condor, the national bird of Ecuador.

 
 

Honduras: The Honduran soccer team's badge features a diagonal representation of the nation's flag in the bottom half. The word Honduras is emblazoned in a white band across the top and a soccer ball occupies the center of the badge. The five stars are taken from the Honduran flag and represent the original five Central American provinces.

GROUP F

Argentina: Argentina's soccer badge features the Argentine flag and two stars representing the two World Cups Argentina has won. The letters "AFA stand for "Asociacion del Futbol Argentina."

Iran: Iran's badge features the nation's flag across the top with a soccer ball in the lower half. In the center of the soccer ball "Iran" is written. The wording "Football Federation Islamic Republic of Iran" is banded around the lower half and again in Persian across the middle of the badge.

Nigeria: Nigeria's soccer crest features the colors of the nation's flag circled around an eagle clutching a soccer ball in its talons. The team is known as the Super Eagles. The words "Nigeria Football Association" ring the circle. The name of their home stadium "Abuja" is at the bottom of the circle.

Bosnia-Herzegovina: Bosnia and Herzegovina's badge is a blue circle with representation of the country on the map overlaid on a representation of a soccer ball in the middle. The circle is ringed with the words "Bosnia and Herzegovina Football Association." The colors are similar to those found in the Bosnian national flag.

GROUP G

Germany: Germany's iconic crest is a circle with the three colors of the German flag – black, red and yellow – at the bottom. In the middle is an eagle, similar to the one found in Germany's coat of arms.

USA: The USA's crest features stars and stripes in a shield with a soccer ball flashing across the letters "U.S." in the center. At the bottom are blue and white stripes while the top red band features three stars representing the three levels of U.S. soccer: youth, adult and pro.

Portugal: Portugal's crest features a shield in the middle of a cross. In the center of the shield are four smaller shields. The letters on top "F.P.F." stand for "Federacao Portuguesa de Futebol."

Ghana: Ghana's dynamic logo features a soccer ball encircled by a flowing Ghanaian flag. It also features a single black star, just as one also appears on the Ghanaian flag. It represents the Black Star Line, a shipping line operated by Marcus Garvey from 1919 to 1922 that transported goods throughout the African global economy. The words "Ghana Football Association" ring the bottom half of the circle.

GROUP H

Belgium: Belgium's regal looking crest features the colors of the flag topped with a crown representing the king. The letters "KBVB" stand for Royal Belgian Football Association and URBSFA stand for "Union Royale Belges de Societes de Football." The year, 1895, signifies when the Royal Belgian Football Association was founded.

Russia: Russia's crest features a soccer ball with the colors of the Russian flag and the Russian script for "Russian Football Union" ringed around it. Sitting atop it is a two-headed eagle such as the one found in the Russian coat of arms.

South Korea: South Korea's badge features a tiger batting a soccer ball with its paw and a banner that reads "Korea Football Association." The tiger has a strong association with Korean culture.

Algeria: Algeria's badge features a soccer ball superimposed over a crescent and star, such as is found on the national flag. The letters "FAF" stand for Algerian Football Federation. The green band on top of the badge represents the green of the Algerian flag.

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