Photographers' Blog

On the Sidelines of the Brazil World Cup

Miami, United States

Russell Boyce

As national soccer teams and the photographers who have been covering them start to trickle home from the Brazil World Cup, it’s time to revisit the “On the Sidelines” project.

This Reuters Pictures project was billed as a chance for photographers to share “their own quirky and creative view of the World Cup”. I thought that I’d examine what has been achieved.

The media bus driver is reflected in a mirror during the trip away from the Pernambuco arena in the rain in Recife June 28, 2014.  In a project called 'On the Sidelines' Reuters photographers share pictures showing their own quirky and creative view of the 2014 World Cup in Brazil.  REUTERS/Brian Snyder    (BRAZIL - Tags: SPORT SOCCER WORLD CUP SOCIETY TRANSPORT) - RTR3WAK2

As a way of introducing the project, let me use a comparison. I’m intrigued by the notion that an animal that has been caged, but is well fed and well treated, will not exchange freedom from its pen for the uncertainty that this freedom might bring.

Likewise, working as a photographer at the World Cup comes with a kind of cage of security. You know what you are going to do, what time you are going to do it, and what is expected of you. You need to capture pictures of great sporting action, goals, celebrations, red cards and, of course, every important incident, be it Suarez’s teeth marks or the collision that led to Neymar’s broken vertebra. 

Brazil's Neymar screams in pain after being fouled by Colombia's Camilo Zuniga (not pictured) during their 2014 World Cup quarter-finals at the Castelao arena in Fortaleza July 4, 2014. REUTERS/Leonhard Foeger

For editors too, life can fall into a regular pattern. First, arrive at the office two hours before the start of the game and make sure all the technology works, and that tests have been received from the photographers.

The people’s game

Sao Paulo, Brazil

By Eddie Keogh

Former Liverpool F.C. manager Bill Shankly once said: “Some people believe football is a matter of life and death, I am very disappointed with that attitude. I can assure you it is much, much more important than that.”

I think that he may have learnt that in Brazil.

Brazil's soccer fans watch their team play against Chile during a 2014 World Cup round of 16 game, in a restaurant in Sao Paulo June 28, 2014. Brazil won the match. Picture taken June 28. REUTERS/Eddie Keogh

I am covering the 2014 World Cup, and to capture the action, I usually sit by the side of the pitch.

But on June 28, when Brazil went head-to-head with Chile for a place in the quarterfinals, my project was to document what this tournament means to ordinary Brazilians, who in most cases can only dream of getting a ticket to see an actual World Cup match.  

The soccer ball as protagonist

Brasilia, Brazil

By Ueslei Marcelino

Most Brazilians, rich or poor, are passionate about soccer. But that’s not to say that this love of the sport permanently unites the nation – recent protests over the World Cup have made that clear.

Brazilian society still suffers from class division and there is a wide gap between the wealthy and the less well-off. It seems to me that we Brazilians are not one people, but for a short while, whenever the national team plays, we can pretend we are.

Milton Souto is poor. Agenor Netto is wealthy. I went to photograph them in their respective homes as they watched Brazil play Chile on June 28th in a round-of-16 World Cup soccer match.

Did he bite?

Miami, Florida

By Russell Boyce

The shout went up “He’s bitten him! Suarez has just bitten him!”

It was the World Cup match between Uruguay and Italy, and both teams were playing for a place in the last 16.

The game was tense, with pictures streaming in from the match in Brazil to the remote picture-editing center we have set up in Miami.

A television replay and it looked pretty certain that Uruguay’s Luis Suarez had bitten Italy’s Giorgio Chiellini on the shoulder in an off-the-ball incident. But you can never tell 100 percent when looking at TV.

Down and dirty English

WARNING: SEXUAL CONTENT

Belo Horizonte, Brazil

By Pilar Olivares

As I went chasing after “ladies of the night” (who sometimes work in the daytime too) I discovered that some of them are proud to be sex workers, almost too proud to be bothered by someone like me – a photographer looking for a good story.

I was on an assignment to take pictures of a group of prostitutes who are taking English classes once a week in preparation for the World Cup. They hope these lessons will help them communicate better with soccer fans who might use their services when they come to Brazil.

Of all my subjects, the most elusive character to photograph was Cida Vieira, the president of the Association of Prostitutes of Minas Gerais (APROSMIG), based in the southeastern Brazilian state whose capital is Belo Horizonte.

More than a leg to stand on

Sao Paulo, Brazil

By Nacho Doce

Alexandre Toledo, age 36, plays soccer with his amateur team every Saturday in the fields around Sao Paulo. He’s one among 22 players on the pitch, but he’s the only one with just one leg.

 

Alexandre, a former professional player for a soccer club in Minas Gerais state, injured his left leg in 1996 in a motorcycle accident while vacationing on the coast. He struggled for a year to regain use of the limb, but in 1997, with the support of his father, he made the difficult decision to have it amputated.

 “My father looked me in the eyes and said, ‘Alexandre, the decision is yours and it’s not an easy one. If you decide to amputate the leg I want you to lift your head up and get out and live your life. It’s no use hanging your head and crying over it just because you still have us, because we won’t be around forever.’”

Struggles to survive in the Amazon

Me Txanava, Brazil

By Lunae Parracho

A day of navigating along the muddy Envira River brought us to a village of the Huni Kui tribe known as Me Txanava, or village of the Singing Birds.

The moon shone bright in the starry sky over the silent village that lies in the municipality of Feijó – part of Brazil’s Acre state, which borders Peru.

The night before, a Huni Kui woman had lost her newborn daughter while giving birth in a boat on the Envira River. The mother and daughter did reach a hospital, but the baby died an hour later.

Tainted paradise

Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
By Sergio Moraes

Back in the 1960s, when I was just a kid, I remember watching swimmers in Guanabara Bay and seeing dolphins race alongside the ferries that transported people to and from the city of Niteroi and Paqueta Island. Beaches like Icarai in Niteroi and Cocota on Governor’s Island were very popular.

So I felt sad when I took a boat through the bay on an assignment recently and photographed discarded sofas, old children’s toys, rubber tires and a toilet seat among many other objects that littered the filthy water.

A sofa is seen near a fishing boat on Fundao beach in the Guanabara Bay in Rio de Janeiro March 13, 2014. REUTERS/Sergio Moraes

I was born in this area when it was still called Guanabara, before it was renamed Rio de Janeiro state in 1975. I still miss that old name, which was a reference to our beautiful but now polluted bay.

Manhunt for wildcat gold miners

Jacareacanga, Para (Brazil)

By Lunaé Parracho

“We’re asking you not to go,” one of the Munduruku Indians said to me while standing in a circle of ten other warriors.

They feared that I would slow them down if I accompanied them on another six-hour hike through the forest to a wildcat gold mine operated by intruders in their territory. This was to be the fifth mine dismantled by the Mundurukus, who live in Brazil’s Amazon rainforest in the western state of Para. This region is rich in natural resources and has been called the country’s new frontier of economic expansion.

Another warrior, sensing my reaction at being considered a drag on the group, approached me and tried to allay my disappointment. “We will photograph for you,” he said, pointing to two young Indians holding compact cameras. “If you want you can give them your camera.”

Football in the land of futebol

Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

By Sergio Moraes

Sports and I have always had an intense relationship. Ever since I was very young, I played street soccer, here called futebol, with friends. I was influenced by my father, a newspaper photographer who covered a lot of soccer and who made me want to do the same.

In my 33 years of taking all kinds of pictures, my greatest experiences were while covering sports, especially the Olympic Games. The Olympics are special to me because they give me the opportunity to photograph and experience sports that aren’t normally played in Brazil. But even after several Olympics, I still haven’t had the chance to cover American sports like NFL football, NBA basketball, and MLB baseball. I’ve watched some of those leagues during visits to the U.S., and that only made me want to photograph them even more. I’m fascinated by their level of organization, their grandeur, and their marketing.

So last February 8th, 33 years into my career, I finally got a chance to photograph a game of American football. It was, of all places, on a beach in Rio de Janeiro. The game was the Ipanema Tatuis, or “Armadillos”, versus the Copacabana Pirates and it was loads of fun. The players were all Brazilian, but they knew enough of the game to follow a few of the American traditions, such as handing the game ball to the day’s best player. It was a game of many touchdowns for the winning Armadillos, played against the backdrop of Rio’s famous Sugarloaf Mountain.

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