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 good, the bad, and the ugly – diary of a World Cup photographer

Dylan Martinez, chief photographer for the United Kingdom and Ireland, is in Brazil to cover the World Cup. He’ll be keeping a diary of the highs and lows here.  

Sunday July 13

A sunny and very pleasant Rio de Janeiro

So how many nights, matches, sidelines, meals, pictures, headaches, national anthems, football chants, hotels, flights, taxis, new faces, friends, annoying people, breakfasts, uncomfortable beds, beards, repeats of useless sitcoms, stolen cameras, hotel laundries, bags, beers and dodgy rooms have we had now?

Answer: too many.

Well, after all that, there was this game of football. And Germany winning 1-0 was not my preferred score. Just saying. 

Suarez v Chiellini – capturing the moment

Uruguay’s Luis Suarez has been banned for a record nine international soccer matches for biting the Italian player Giorgio Chiellini during a World Cup game. Reuters photographer Tony Gentile captured a key picture, showing the marks on Chiellini’s shoulder after the incident. Here, he describes covering the match.

Italy's Giorgio Chiellini shows his shoulder, claiming he was bitten by Uruguay's Luis Suarez, during their 2014 World Cup Group D soccer match at the Dunas arena in Natal

Recife, Brazil

By Tony Gentile

The World Cup is one of the most important events we cover as photographers, drawing the attention of fans from all over the world.

A couple of days ago I witnessed one of the big moments in this big story. I was covering Italy v. Uruguay and it felt almost just like any other match, with a little added interest because my own national team, Italy, was playing.

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.

Family, soccer and God

by Rickey Rogers

It was around the time that Brazil was beginning construction projects to host the 2014 World Cup four years ago, that a massive earthquake devastated Haiti’s capital. The quake killed over 200,000 people and left few Haitians unaffected in some way. That disaster, coupled with the attraction of a World Cup country and the fact that Brazilians were already familiar to Haitians as UN peacekeepers patrolling their streets, initiated a new route south for migrants trying to escape the difficult situation. That route starts in Haiti passing overland to the Dominican Republic, by plane to Ecuador or Peru, and overland to the Peru-Brazil border where even today there are hundreds of Haitians awaiting visas.

Photographer Bruno Kelly was on an assignment to photograph the dozen or so Haitians working at the Arena Amazonia stadium in Brazil’s Amazonian capital, Manaus, when he met immigrant Milice Norassaint. Milice’s story touched Bruno, and they became friends as Bruno photographed him at work and in his daily life. Bruno asked Milice for his wife’s phone back in Haiti, and Bruno gave it to colleague Marie Arago in Port-au-Prince.

What resulted is a story about a family divided by need, but united through their faith.

Colombian yellow is back

Barranquilla, Colombia

By Jose Miguel Gomez

An entire stadium with over 40,000 fans dressed in yellow awaited the key match between Colombia and Chile. Only a couple of thousand wore Chilean red. We photographers arrived early to set up on the field in the 40C (104F) heat and 80% humidity. Every slight movement in the sun caused a burst of sweat.

Colombia only needed a draw to qualify for Brazil 2014. It was 16 years since we last qualified for the World Cup, and the fans inside the stadium and out were in a state of triumphal optimism. This was a whole new generation of players, and those who played for European clubs carried the biggest burden of setting the stage for a nationwide fiesta.

Chile, on the other hand, did play in the last World Cup. Commentators claimed that Chile is a dangerous team, but no one imagined what would happen later.

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.

Between “Jogo bonito” and riots on the streets

Salvador, Brazil

By Kai Pfaffenbach

Football is the sport I most like to photograph.

Almost everybody in Reuters knows that. When I was assigned to head to Brazil to cover the FIFA Confederations Cup one of my dreams came a little closer: covering a soccer match at Rio’s famous Maracana stadium. After almost two weeks of following the tournament’s group stage matches I haven’t seen the Maracana (that only happens for the final). But I have had the pleasure of traveling in a team of three with my colleagues Jorge Silva and Paulo Whitaker from Brasilia to Belo Horizonte, Fortaleza and Salvador. The stadiums look great, they are ready for the big event next year, the spectators are as enthusiastic as expected and so far we have seen good games with an outstanding Brazilian superstar Neymar and spectacular overhead kicks from Hulk.

But I have to admit that my attention has been taken away from the stadiums, organization and the games by the huge demonstrations across Brazil. It is very obvious that the people are not happy about how things are happening here and it seems solidarity for the cause is rising.

Some of these protests unfortunately turned into riots and violence. Being quite experienced with this and even used to rough police enforcement for the last few days I found myself outside the stadiums to cover the street fights before heading back in to cover the matches. The situation develops very quickly here. Most of the protesters were calm, only shouting slogans and holding up placards and flags but some of them were ready for trouble. Stones flew everywhere, barricades were set on fire and it turned into proper civil unrest.

The new soulless Maracana

Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

By Sergio Moraes

Last Sunday, June 2, I returned to Maracana to cover Brazil and England playing a friendly soccer match that was also the re-inauguration of this iconic stadium. The first sensation I felt when entering the building was nostalgia for the old Maracana. The new one is beautiful and modern with fantastic lighting, but it didn’t move me. The truth is, it’s no longer Maracana, but rather a different stadium built for the 2014 World Cup. Even the acoustics are different.

It is no longer, as legendary player Nilton Santos called it in the 50’s, “an enormous pressure cooker.”

My first experience with Maracana was when I was 6 years old. That was in 1968, a magic year for a boy who just began to become passionate about soccer and with the Botafogo club, known in Rio as “O Glorioso,” or The Glorious One. That year I witnessed Botafogo being crowned champion of the state championship, and winning the Brazil Cup the following year.

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