SAO PAULO (Reuters) - Brazilian football club Vitoria has removed its trademark red hoops from its shirt and told supporters it will add the color back gradually as fans donate blood.
The campaign, entitled "My Blood is Red and Black", is named after the club's traditional colors and comes amid a nationwide drive to get more Brazilians to give blood for transfusions.
"We wanted to do more than just ask fans to give blood," said Vitoria's president Alexi Portela Junior. "With this initiative, fans of the red and black can participate more actively in the campaign and they will see the importance of a gesture like this that can help save countless lives."
The club normally plays in a red-and-black hooped shirt, with white shorts and red-and-black socks. At its most recent game, players wearing black-and-white hooped shirts carried a banner onto the field reading: "Vitoria has always given its blood for you. It's time for you to give yours."
Portela Junior said the club plans to add a red hoop back after each game, starting with next weekend's match. The club has four red and four black hoops on its jersey.
"In this novel way we are making our fans aware of the importance of giving blood," Portela Junior said.
The campaign comes just a few weeks after Sao Paulo, one of Brazil's biggest clubs, put the slogan "Give Blood" on its shirts for a game.
Brazil's Health Ministry and blood banks often launch campaigns during school holidays as donations fall by as much as 25 percent. Officials said that although Brazil has invested heavily in the area, only around two percent of Brazilians give blood regularly. The World Health Organization recommends that number should be three percent.
Vitoria, which is based in Salvador in the northeastern state of Bahia, was founded in 1899 and is one of Brazil's oldest clubs. It is famous for having launched the careers of World Cup winners Bebeto and Vampeta, and current Chelsea defender David Luiz.
It currently sits in fourth place in the Serie B after eight games and is one of the favorites to gain promotion. The give blood campaign already seems to have brought them luck on the pitch. In their first red-less shirt, they beat Avai 2-0.
Editing by John Mehaffey