Club de Regatas Vasco da Gama, commonly referred to as Vasco da Gama, was first established in 1898 as a sports club, but the football team was not founded until 1915. The club is closely associated with Rio de Janeiro's Portuguese population and, in fact, the team takes its name from a celebrated explorer from Portugal, Dom Vasco da Gama, who was the first European to travel to India via the sea.
Historically, the club has played a large role in race relations within Brazilian football. During the 1920s, the club achieved success with a team consisting of players from a variety of ethnic backgrounds and social classes. Amidst pressure from the authorities to outlaw some of these players, Vasco da Gama refused to back down. The club's president from the time, José Augusto Prestes, responded to the demands with a strongly worded letter, which would go on to be dubbed the resposta histórica. This response was instrumental in improving the culture within football at that time.
Vasco da Gama have achieved significant success throughout their history, winning the Campeonato Carioca twenty-two times, Série A four times, the Copa do Brasil once and the Taça Guanabara eleven times. The club have also achieved success on the international front, winning the Copa Rio in 1953. In 1998, Vasco da Gama won the Copa Libertadores, beating the Ecuadorian club Barcelona in the final. Later in the year they were runners up in the Intercontinental Cup. In 2000, Vasco da Gama finished in 2nd place in the FIFA Club World Cup losing out to fellow Brazilian team Corithians on penalties.
Some of Vasco da Gama's better known players from the past include Romário, Edmundo, Bebeto and Juninho Pernambucano. However, Roberto Dinamite is perhaps Vasco's most legendary player, having scored 702 goals for the club.
Vasco play their home matches at the Estádio São Januário, which has a capacity of 25,000. For some of the club's more important matches, the Maracanã is used due to its capacity of around 80,000.