Photographers' Blog

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 next best thing is to meet with friends and family or get to the nearest bar with a television. So I spent the 90 minutes of the game going on my own bar crawl (without the alcohol) to photograph Brazilian fans dreaming of glory.

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

The feelings of fear, joy, hope and despair were no different here in a Sao Paulo bar to the emotions being felt on a bench in Belo Horizonte, where Brazil were actually playing. 

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.

Goals all over the world

London, United Kingdom

By Russell Boyce

Sometimes the best ideas are also the simplest ones, especially when you have the support of the world’s biggest news agency behind you.

Inspired by the energy generated by a Wider Image workshop with our photographers in South America, I wanted to work on a global story about the Brazil 2014 World Cup. So many superlatives are used to describe it: the world’s greatest show, the most watched tournament, the biggest sporting event.

I needed a big idea that could demonstrate the worldwide reach of football (or soccer, for our U.S. readers) and I wanted to include our global team of busy photographers. For them to find the time to get involved, the idea had to be simple.

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.’”

Playing ‘naked’ soccer in Brazil

Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

By Sergio Moraes

Why do we Brazilians refer to our neighborhood soccer matches as ‘peladas’? A search on the web brings up many answers, but not one is really definitive. In English ‘pelada’ means ‘naked’ in the feminine gender, but none of the answers I found has to do with playing the sport with no clothes on.

One version talks of street soccer where everyone plays barefoot, or with ‘naked’ feet, running after the ball without a referee or any regard for rules.

Players battle for the ball during a Sunday "pelada" soccer match in the Borel favela of Rio de Janeiro, a World Cup host city, May 4, 2014. Sunday soccer is a decades-old tradition when Brazilians of all walks of life play on the beaches, in the slums, and on the streets matches that are known as "peladas" or "naked". Pelada can refer to a street match where everyone plays barefoot with ÒnakedÓ feet, or a match on a grassless ÒnakedÓ field, or a match with a ball so worn that it is Ònaked.Ó With the 2014 World Cup just one month away, people of all walks of life in the host cities are spending their Sundays practicing the sport for which their country is about to become the global stage. The tournament will take place in Brasilia, Belo Horizonte, Rio de Janeiro, Sao Paulo, Natal, Fortaleza, Salvador, Porto Alegre, Curitiba, Cuiaba, Manaus, and Recife. Picture taken May 4, 2014.  REUTERS/Ricardo Moraes (BRAZIL)

The version that strikes me as most coherent is in reference to the fields where weekend matches are played – most of them are grassless, or ‘naked’, as the description fits.

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.

Dreaming of the next Messi

Bariloche, Argentina

By Chiwi Gianbirtone

When I went to see Claudio Nancufil, he looked like any other 8-year old kid, keen to play with his friends but not very communicative. Before playing a match they did a training session, kicking the ball to the coach and Claudio was waiting patiently for his turn without saying much.

Finally, they started playing and during the match he was constantly going for the ball and shots on goal. He dribbled swiftly past bigger boys, kicked the ball with his left and passed accurately. He kept on asking secretly for the ball so his opponents wouldn’t notice. He played well, like a grown-up player. He was quiet but went directly to the referee if some of the other players kicked him. At the end of the match it came down to penalties. Claudio always got the ball into the goal but the goalie was not bad either.

GALLERY: THE NEXT MESSI

They played on a dirt pitch in windy conditions with remnants of volcanic ash everywhere. I found myself wondering how much better he would fare on a real grass field.

Morphing after midnight

Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

By Sergio Moraes

In Brazil it’s not hard to find people who like to play soccer. Recently I came across a group of fanatics at Don Camillo Restaurant along Copacabana Beach, but they weren’t customers. They are the waiters.

At work the waiters never stop talking about soccer, whether commenting about the latest round of the Brasileiro national championship, or the outlook for the 2014 World Cup that Brazil will host. But every Monday after closing up at midnight, the waiters grab their gym bags and board a bus to the Aterro do Flamengo soccer field in the south of Rio. They morph into what they really want to be – soccer players.

The best player in the group is Jonas Aguiar, 37, who nearly turned pro at 18 but was frustrated by a thigh injury. Aguiar is the team’s organizer; it was he who found a sponsor for their team jerseys in restaurant customer Mr. Ayrton, director of the Botafogo first division club. Although the waiters began playing with the Botafogo name on their shirts, they soon made up their own name combining Botafogo, which means “fire spitter”, with their restaurant’s name, Don Camillo. They now call themselves Don Fogo, or Mr. Fire.

Striking the balance on the pitch

London, England

By Russell Boyce

Every trip to Wembley Stadium where football is played is a passionate affair. The preparation, expectation, the rise of tension, the meeting of friends and foes, fear of not being match-fit, your position, good luck or bad luck, missing opportunities, grabbing at a half opportunity and making it work, a flash of inspiration, getting the goal (Oh joy! Oh joy!), missing the goal (let the pitch open and swallow me whole) and of course the team. Always team; will you win or lose? And that is just the photographers.


Photo by Paul Hackett

Recently a picture editor told me he receives about 27,000 images every day. He looks for short cuts to be able to see the best pictures that tell the whole story without getting snowed under looking at hundreds of pictures he doesn’t need. How can we help?

I am very preoccupied with the future of news pictures. Questions I ask myself are “is coverage at major events very different now from the past? And what will be relevant in the future?” I decided to apply this question to the Borussia Dortmund v Bayern Munich Champions League final at Wembley Stadium. What pictures are needed? Simple to answer, the fans, great action, the goals, the celebration, the dejection, the match changing incident, the final whistle moment, the personalities and of course the trophy.

Rob Ford’s football frenzy

Toronto, Canada

By Mark Blinch

Rob Ford is a very interesting man. He is definitely not your typical mayor. At Reuters, city politics is not usually something we cover. If we do, it’s usually because of a big city election or a major mayoral scandal. In Toronto, it looks like we may be on the brink of both.

Ford was legally removed from office on Monday after a judge found him guilty of violating conflict-of-interest laws.

The controversy began back in 2010. That’s when Ford raised eyebrows by soliciting donations for his private football foundation using official city letterhead. Ford’s actions were questioned again when he took part in a council debate and vote on the matter, voting to remove the sanctions that were ordered against him.

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