Photographers' Blog

Gabriel just wants to play

By Ricardo Moraes

What would people say if I told them that I met a footless boy who plays football? (Of course, since I’m talking about Brazil, football is really soccer.) I don’t think even my family or closest friends would believe me. Luckily, I’m a photographer and can show them. The beautiful part of this story is not just that Gabriel plays football without feet, but that he plays incredibly well.

Gabriel Muniz, an 11-year-old boy born with malformed feet, grew up like most Brazilian children with a soccer ball by his side.

Gabriel became famous after he was featured on a TV sports program. Those scenes of him demonstrating great skill with the ball hadn’t left my mind, so I was excited about the opportunity to photograph him. But while on the road to Campos do Goytacazes, where Gabriel lives, I kept thinking that maybe the TV show had been overproduced and that he couldn’t really be THAT good.

SLIDESHOW: FOOTLESS SOCCER PLAYER

We reached the city a day ahead of schedule and passed by Gabriel’s school where we spotted him playing soccer with friends. From there we went to his home where his mother agreed to see us even though we were a day early. Gabriel eventually arrived home after school and greeted us shyly, but by the time he did his homework, played video games, and had a snack, it was too late for him to play soccer for us.

The next day we returned before he awoke, and followed his first steps of the day. His mother gave him prostheses to wear, which surprised us, but she said he should go to school with them on.

To my friend Vladimir Lenin

By Charles Platiau

When I arrived in Donetsk, southern Ukraine, two weeks ago I didn’t think you would be one of the best friends I made during my stay. Nobody speaks English here, even if my hotel is called “the Liverpool hotel” and plays Beatles music all day long everywhere except, thoughtfully, in my room. I don’t speak Russian either, but I soon learned Vladimir Ilyich is how locals fondly refer to you, Mr Lenin. Your statue dominates the landscape of this city’s downtown. You remain in full view in contrast to the advertising you stand opposite; maybe people even remember what you stand for.

It’s hard to judge a place in such a short time but I wonder what Donetsk looks like when there isn’t such a big event in town. The city is quiet, very clean and there are more advertising boards than in most western countries. All the ugliest buildings are now covered with banners to advertise Japanese goods or to hide the worst aspects of the city.

Later I saw this big car advertisement had gone and residents behind it could walk on their balconies again.

A game of two other halves

By Eddie Keogh

As part of our photographic coverage of Euro 2012, Darren Staples and myself from England and Michael Dalder from Germany are covering all the group games in Kiev and Lviv in Ukraine. Our first game was between Germany and Portugal last Saturday in Lviv and proved to be a very interesting day.

Saturday is a busy day to get married in Ukraine and as the city was also packed with fans it was only time before both parties would meet.

Tina Lemboke and her friends from Rostock in Germany were the first to grab a souvenir photo with a wedding couple. The couple were more than happy as it was a good opportunity also for them to get an unusual wedding picture. Tina said’ “They are so friendly here, everyone has been so welcoming.” That proved to be very true as a member of the wedding party opened the boot of his car and presented Tina with a bottle of vodka.

As they left another group of German fans spotted the wedding couple. Five students from Ulm in southern Germany, who had travelled for 24 hours by train to get here. Students being students, a normal picture wasn’t good enough. To everyone’s surprise Paul Schlenker wrapped his German flag around the wedding couple and there was another picture sure to be a hit on Facebook. These fans had a marathon schedule ahead of them as Markus Gamm pointed out. “We have no accommodation tonight and a 25 hour bus ride back to Germany. If we win tonight, we will party all night and sleep on the bus. Hopefully the full 25 hours. ”

Finding Funtik

By Will Webster

Who could have foreseen what the late Paul the Octopus started when he began picking the winning teams at the 2010 World Cup? Presumably he could have, he was clairvoyant. But he may have struggled to predict the psychic circus that has appeared in the last week before the opening of the EURO2012 championship:  Fred the ferret, an elephant called Chitta and Kiev’s very own Funtik the pig.

Animals predicting the outcomes of sporting events are all part of various big competitions now, Sonny Wool the sheep had a good run during the rugby world cup in 2011, so it’s easy to take it all with a pinch of salt (we’ll talk about local eating habits later.) However, using animals to predict the future goes back to biblical times, doves landing on the arc gave Noah a hint of better times.
Sitting in Moscow, my first view of Funtik was Gleb’s picture of a rabid and vaguely scary looking beast. Fred the Ferret from Kharkiv has a much more furry and cheeky appeal, so why did Kiev go for a pig? 

I talked to Reuters photographer in Kiev Anatolii Stepanov who has spent the last couple of days getting to know Funtik.

Russia’s hooligans

By Maxim Shemetov

Photographing a soccer match for the first time, I realized that shooting the fans can be more interesting than covering the game itself.

We all keep up with the destinies of football clubs and the careers of soccer players. There are many parts to soccer life, however, that rarely appear on TV and on the front pages of newspapers. It’s the life of people absorbed by the game – those inspiring exciting games, TV translations, as well as the construction of new stadiums.

Fan life is inseparable from the game itself, but there are certain aspects to soccer-fan culture that are rarely talked about. It’s a quiet closed-off world with its own unwritten rules and laws, concepts of respect and dignity. The community is very picky about who it lets inside. The fan culture is aggressive and resembles that of medieval knights at first sight. Physical power, fighting skills and determination in battle are often attributes of soccer fans.

Saving the Canon 400mm f2.8

By Murad Sezer

All photographers make plans to deal with possible clashes. They are ready to protect themselves and their equipment when covering a potential riot (or a May Day demonstration as I did a few days earlier). But you don’t expect to be doing that before a soccer match, or any other sports events.

While covering the May Day protests I don’t carry a camera bag or a laptop. I head out with my two camera bodies, spare memory cards, a gas mask and a wireless lan transmitter attached to the camera body to file my pictures – that’s all.. It’s more comfortable and easy to cover if any riots break out. But to cover a soccer match is a different story. If it’s a cup final or a decisive match like last Saturday’s Fenerbahce – Galatasaray Turkish Super League Super Final, we bring along much more equipment. I pack a hardcase with a laptop, 3 camera bodies, four lenses including a 400 mm f2.8 super telephoto, remote control devices to set up a camera behind the goal, network cables, a mini tripod etc. And usually we don’t even think about the safety of ourselves or our equipment. Normally during half time or at the end of the game we set our cameras down and rush to file pictures from the field or in the photographers’ working room.



SLIDESHOW: SOCCER FANS GONE WILD

However, in the shadow of the season-long match-fixing scandal, tension was high before the Fenerbahce vs Galatasaray derby. Fenerbahce had to win, while a draw was enough for Galatasaray to lift the championship trophy. Remembering when fans rioted two years ago after Fenerbahce missed out on the league championships at home, all the photographers were worried about the end of this match. But I didn’t see any photographer friends take any precautionary measures. It looked like they had no plan B, but I had one. My plan B was a padlock! The game started. It was a rough-and-tumble season finale. The two teams did not score and in the five minutes of injury time I felt that the match would finish 0-0. That would mean Galatasaray would become the 2011-12 Turkish champions, which may trigger some violence by disappointed Fenerbahce fans both on and off the pitch.

A glance into Germany’s dressing room

By Kai Pfaffenbach

Football, or “soccer” for our American friends, is the top sport in Europe. With the Euro 2012 tournament in Ukraine and Poland later this year we are expecting another sports highlight just before the Olympics in London. Sixteen teams will fight for the European title and after their good performance at the 2010 World Cup in South Africa, Germany is amongst the favorites for this event. Title holder and World Champion Spain, Holland and France are on the bookmaker’s shortlists as well.

With the big tournament to come I had asked the team press spokesman a while back if I could get some behind the scenes access on Germany’s road to the final in Kiev. It was a big surprise when I finally got the opportunity granted to shoot the set up in the dressing room for an upcoming game. Almost 40,000 spectators in the newly renovated stadium of Bremen were expecting a great test match between Germany and France. By that time I was inside the catacombs of the stadium where even TV is usually banned from. You will never make it past all the security standing around without very special permission.

Entering the dressing room, or should I say “dressing hall”, was really different to any other sport venue I had seen before. Each and every player has his own personal space; one match dress on a hanger, a second one lying on his seat.

From the Quake to the Cup

By Mariana Bazo

Nearly 300 Haitians are stuck in Inapari, a tiny Peruvian village on the border with Brazil. They are victims of the 2010 earthquake in their country and traveled weeks chasing their dream of simply getting a job. They believe that in Brazil the upcoming World Cup is creating great opportunities.

Some 3,000 kilometers after leaving home, they reached the Brazilian border only to find it shut to them, closed to stop the wave of their compatriots that began to arrive after the disaster.

They wait in the middle of the jungle and understand little. They’ve bet everything on this chance, selling or just abandoning all their belongings back home to make it this far. They now have nothing in Haiti and can’t reach their destination, nor can they return. They even asked me why they’re not allowed to cross the border, assuring that they are good workers and are willing to work hard to live better.

Goodbye to hell

In the second half of the 2010-2011 Turkish football season Galatasaray moved to its new home ground in Istanbul, the Turk Telekom Arena, a 52,000-seat multi-purpose stadium replacing the Ali Sami Yen Stadium.

The fate of the legendary Ali Sami Yen Stadium is now sealed.

Ali Sami Yen stadium in Istanbul 2010. REUTERS/Sevim Sen

The demolition of Ali Sami Yen, one of the most iconic venues in Turkish football and the home to one of the three oldest Istanbul football clubs Galatsaray for 47 years, started last week. For almost half a century, the yellow-and-red lions hosted their rivals in this temple with the slogan “welcome to hell”. The stadium played host to victories against European giants FC Barcelona, A.Bilbao, AC Milan, Real Madrid, E.Frankfurt, and a historic victory against Neuchatel Xamax. Most notably it was the scene of Galatasaray’s triumphal UEFA Cup campaign in 2000.

Galatasaray soccer fans cheer during the Turkish Super league derby soccer match between Galatasaray and Fenerbahce at Ali Sami Yen stadium in Istanbul March 28, 2010. REUTERS/Murad Sezer

The team played all its home group and qualification matches for the 2000 UEFA Cup at the stadium before winning the final against Arsenal in Copenhagen, the biggest success in the history of Turkish football.
World renowned Italian referee Pierluigi Collina even once admitted: “I love this Hell.” It was witness to unforgettable national and international football matches, hosting world class teams, players, coaches and referees. The stadium witnessed 14 of Galatasaray’s 17 Turkish league titles. Opened in 1964, Ali Sami Yen Stadium has always played a major part in the Turkish football scene, being home to Galatasaray’s heyday and many victories of the Turkish national football team.

Yes, my job really is this glamorous

When people ask me what I do for a living, or they hear tales from my wife about me being away at the Olympics or shooting football or golf or a Papal visit somewhere, the usual response is to tell me how glamorous my job is, rubbing shoulders with all these famous sporting and political icons and how lucky I am to get to attend all these events and call it work!

Granted, I am incredibly lucky to have an office that regularly includes Premier League football grounds and other major sporting events, but glamorous……not a word I would often use, and last night was a perfect case in point.

I’ve been shooting professionally now for 15 years. Being located in the north of England, an awful lot of that time has been spent shooting football, which we all know is an outdoor sport. I’ve experienced most things that football can throw at you: the thrills, the spills and the bad weather. But I have never been as wet as I was at last night’s league cup game between Liverpool and Northampton Town.