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The Show Must Go On, But Not Without the Fans!

By Robert Ghement

    ‘There’s lots of pretty, pretty ones
    that want to get you high.
    But all the pretty, pretty ones
    will leave you low, and blow your mind.’

    ‘The Dope Show’- by Marylin Manson

For Brazilian people, soccer is more than just a phenomenon, it’s almost a religion.
Organizing a world cup in such a place could be compared to setting up a religious pilgrimage for
a broad mass of followers, with all its implications.
Members from various ‘congregations’ will come to support their idols and saints, full of hope and believing that their support is crucial for their beloved ones; stadiums will be their churches, and
players their hopeful healers.

Brazil supporters react during the FIFA World Cup 2014 third place match between Brazil and the Netherlands at the Estadio Nacional in Brasilia, Brazil, 12 July 2014. epa / Robert Ghement

Brazil supporters react during the FIFA World Cup 2014 third place match between Brazil and the Netherlands at the Estadio Nacional in Brasilia, Brazil, 12 July 2014. epa / Robert Ghement

Either called ‘hermanos’ or the ‘red devils’, watching the game from their seats, or at home on their couches or
trembling in front of the Fan Fest stages, soccer fans are the most important factor in a World Cup equation.
No one could deny that.
Soccer fans can be hopeful, sad, daring, bold, enthusiastic or violent, but they could not replace the Big Show!

Brazilian fans react while watching the FIFA World Cup 2014 group A preliminary round match between Brazil and Mexico at the FIFA Fan Fest in Salvador, Brazil, 17 June 2014. The match at the Estadio Castelao in Fortaleza ended 0-0. epa / Guillaume Horcajuelo

Brazilian soccer fans react while watching the FIFA World Cup 2014 group A preliminary round match between Brazil and Mexico at the FIFA Fan Fest in Salvador, Brazil, 17 June 2014. The match at the Estadio Castelao in Fortaleza ended 0-0. epa / Guillaume Horcajuelo

They could just watch it, encourage it, coming to despair or exultation, but never play it.
And that’s the role of the team players. Sometimes, expert commentators refer to them as ‘the twelfth player’.

A German soccer fan waves the German flag among spectators in Paris, France, 04 July 2014, who attend the public viewing of the FIFA World Cup 2014 quarter final soccer match between France and Germany on a giant screen in front of Hotel de Ville (Town Hall).  epa / Ian Langsdon

A German soccer fan waves the German flag among spectators in Paris, France, 04 July 2014, who attend the public viewing of the FIFA World Cup 2014 quarter final soccer match between France and Germany on a giant screen in front of Hotel de Ville (Town Hall). epa / Ian Langsdon

The Brazilian team had its twelfth man in every stadium they played, as they were playing all the games in their own yard.
One could call this an advantage, but ‘the twelth player’ never listens to or obeys the head coach!
Sometimes, when eager, they can do more damage than good to a team.
That was not the case with the Brazilian team, who was supported at all times consequently and religiously.
Even at 5-0, Brazilian fans still had energy to encourage a desperate ball recovery or an almost brutal stop of their opponents. But, at a certain point, their love for soccer was greater than that for their own team, when, without any warning, Brazilians started to cheer each passing shot exchanged by the German players. As if the Germans
were Brazilians and vice versa. That was beyond common belief: they praised much more the Beauty of The Game than their favorite players.

A Brazilian fan shows his dejection after the FIFA World Cup 2014 semi final match between Brazil and Germany at the Estadio Mineirao in Belo Horizonte, Brazil, 08 July 2014. Germany won 7-1. epa/dpa/Thomas Eisenhuth

A Brazilian fan shows his dejection after the FIFA World Cup 2014 semi final match between Brazil and Germany at the Estadio Mineirao in Belo Horizonte, Brazil, 08 July 2014. Germany won 7-1. epa/dpa/Thomas Eisenhuth

Some Brazilians were saying that the football shirts of their team were smaller than those of their opponents!
After the historic semi-final Brazil vs Germany ended, the streets of Belo Horizonte were set on fire:
parties were held on street corners in Devassi Square in a way that made you believe Brazil had won the game that night! Police were watching supporters dancing and drinking from close range, but spirits were never heated up in a bad way. From time to time, small groups of German supporters crossed masses of Brazilians. Dressed in their white T-Shirts they stood out like lanterns in the dark, drinking their beers and enjoying the street fiestas. Sometimes they were cheered by the Brazilians by voice or hand clapping, but never pushed, bullied or cursed at.

Fernandinho of Brazil react after a goal scored by Toni Kroos of Germany  during the FIFA World Cup 2014 semi final match between Brazil and Germany at the Estadio Mineirao in Belo Horizonte, Brazil, 08 July 2014.  epa / Robert Ghement

Fernandinho of Brazil react after a goal scored by Toni Kroos of Germany during the FIFA World Cup 2014 semi final match between Brazil and Germany at the Estadio Mineirao in Belo Horizonte, Brazil, 08 July 2014. epa / Robert Ghement

After 7 to 1.

I don’t know if seven is a magic number, but for sure Brazilian soccer fans are magic, same as the game of the German team who defeated their beloved team.
I think now, not many Brazilians believe into their own team, but for sure they will never lose faith in The Game!

I really want to make the followers of this blog understand that we as photographers are humans too, sometimes pushy, at other times stressed or impulsive. We are not just machines who push a button, but beings who care and who filter surrounding information and stimulus before transforming our perception and feelings into a digital pixel, to share our vision on soccer and the true fans who never had a chance to watch a game from pitch level!

Because we are The Transformers.

Robert Ghement is a staff photographer in Bucharest and has been with epa for 15 years.

UPDATE: Upon his return from Brazil, he was immediately called to a new assignment to cover the recent events in Ukraine.

Malaysia Airlines plane crashes in eastern Ukraine.

Malaysia Airlines plane crash in eastern Ukraine. Pictures by epa / Robert Ghement

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