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.

I once heard that the rules of football are among the most universally recognised codes in the world. They transcend divides of creed, culture, education, geography and wealth. Offside is offside no matter who you are, or what your nationality. And what is football actually about? It’s about goals.

Two boys playing football on the beach , in Benghazi

And what is a goal? That moment of ecstatic joy, crushing defeat, a game won, lost or drawn (unless it’s a dull 0-0). Lucky, unlucky, frequently contentious, always an event. Maybe it should have been a goal and was disallowed, maybe it shouldn’t have been but was counted anyway. Goals can signify millions of dollars won or lost or invested in the business of football. They can mean winning or losing a bet.