TIME photo essay

Football Comes Home: Soccer as Religion in Brazil

Brazil-based Sebastián Liste took these powerful photos of soccer fans and soccer players in Rio de Janeiro, for whom football is no mere pastime, it is a religion.

My friend Anirban Blah, a bollywood superagent, has a tattoo on his arm with the logo of Spain’s Real Madrid. (As a partisan of FC Barcelona, Madrid’s great rival, I’m a little ashamed that my own devotion doesn’t run quite that deep.) This makes Blah the craziest football fan in Mumbai. In Rio de Janeiro, that would mark him as someone with a mild interest in the sport. Rio is, after all, home to Delneri Martins Viana, a man so besotted with his favorite team, Botafogo, that he goes down to the tattoo parlor every Thursday to have his loyalty inked on his skin. At last count, Viana had 83 Botafogo tattoos.

Does that make him the craziest fan in Rio? Not if Desirée Rogério de Carvalho has anything to say about it. A partisan of Fluminense FC, de Carvalho has that club’s maroon and green colors painted on his teeth. (Happily for Blah, Madrid’s color is white.) Yet another contender is Carlos Eduardo Araujo, who has had his house and car painted in the red and black of CR Flamengo.

If Brazil is football’s spiritual home, then these men are its high priests. (Carlos Henrique do Nascimento takes his unofficial role as vicar of Vasco da Gama very seriously. The team believes his presence at games helps them win.) But they are only the more extreme examples of the deep passion for the sport that runs through the country’s 200 million people.

And the organizers of the World Cup—the Brazilian government as well as FIFA, football’s scandal-plagued governing body—are counting on that passion to make a success of the tournament, which kicks off on June 12. But there is another passion at play: a growing rage at economic inequality and corruption that has repeatedly exploded onto the streets of Brazil’s biggest cities over the past year. Polls show that many

Brazilians—perhaps even a majority—feel that hosting a World Cup is a bad idea, both in terms of economics and optics. Protest rallies are being planned during the tournament, and over the next few days, the news from Brazil could be as much about the action on the streets as on the pitch.

So this is a good moment to remind ourselves that whatever Brazilians feel about the World Cup, their love for the sport remains undiminished. Superfans like de Carvalho and Viana tend to the flames of footballing passion with great devotion. Long may the fire burn.


Sebastián Liste is a Brazil-based photographer. In September 2012, he received the Getty Images Grant for Editorial Photography and the City of Perpignan Rémi Ochlik Award. LightBox previously published Liste’s work documenting the community living in an abandoned chocolate factory. Follow him on Twitter @SebastianListe.

Bobby Ghosh is the editor of TIME International. Follow him on Twitter @ghoshworld.


TIME Soccer

How I Finally Got My Picture With Pelé

TIME's International Editor Bobby Ghosh with Pelé.
Javier Sirvent for TIME TIME's International Editor Bobby Ghosh, left, with Pelé.

This week, TIME International editor Bobby Ghosh stood for a photograph with the Brazilian soccer legend Pelé—a snap that both fulfilled a childhood dream and ended a journalist's longstanding frustration

Pelé, the soccer wizard, may have been the first famous person to enter my consciousness. I was just three years old in 1970, when his goals brought Brazil its third World Cup. My father, a soccer nut, had never seen Pelé play, but read enough about him to become a fan, and he passed that enthusiasm down to me. When I was old enough to kick a ball around, I scrawled ‘10’ — the number Pelé made famous — on the back of my T-shirt and tried to execute his patented bicycle kicks.

I never became the goal-scoring superstar of my own imagination, but when I started my career as a journalist it allowed me to invent a new fantasy: Someday, I told myself, I would meet my boyhood hero. Someday, I would shake hands with Pelé.

The opportunity came in 2002 when TIME sent me to Japan to cover the World Cup, my first major sports assignment. I knew Pelé was going to be there, in his capacity as a pitchman for a famous credit-card brand, and I made it my business to find him.

In the meantime, I got to meet, interview and generally hang out with my favorite players. And not just current (for the time) stars like Brazil’s Ronaldo and Argentina’s Gabriel Batistuta, but also stars of a previous era, like French genius Michele Platini and the German ‘Kaizer’ Franz Beckenbauer.

But as a newbie sports journalist, I was not entirely sure about the rules governing such encounters. Was I allowed to ask the players for their autographs or to have my picture taken with them? I decided, foolishly, that to ask would be to behave like a fan, and therefore unprofessional.

It was agonizing to deny myself the opportunity, and made worse by the fact that nobody else seemed to be following this rule. I would find myself chatting with Nigeria’s Jay-Jay Ococha, and a Nigerian journalist would come up and ask if I could shoot a picture of the two of them. I always complied, of course. But I never summoned the courage to ask for myself.

Things came to a head one night in Tokyo, at a grand party thrown by the makers of the official World Cup ball. Sure enough, Pelé was there, and to my delight he agreed to an interview on the spot. He was, true to everything I had read and heard about him, genial and charming. Just over his shoulder, a couple of feet away, Platini was deep in conversation with Beckenbauer. I felt honored just to be breathing the same air as the soccer aristocracy.

Then, a young Japanese kid came up: he could have been no more than 10 years old and he carried a camera half his size. He approached to Pelé and asked if he could take a picture. Once Pelé agreed, the kid went over to Platini and Beckenbauer and asked if they would stand alongside Pelé.

As the giants of the game lined up, I stepped out of the frame, to give the kid a nice shot of the troika. Then, just because he’s such a nice guy, Pelé reached out and grabbed my arm, and dragged me into the picture. “No, you must join us,” he said.

The kid shot a couple of frames, bowed and left.

I couldn’t believe my good luck: a picture of me with these three amazing players! But then a quandary arose in my mind. Should I run after the kid and get his contact details, so I could ask for the picture later? (Remember, this was 2002, before cellphone cameras.) Or should I take the opportunity to have a conversation with Pelé, Platini and Beckenbauer?

Naturally, I chose to stay and chat with my idols.

About half an hour later, I went looking for the kid. He was gone, and nobody could tell me who he was.

For over a decade, I have told friends the story of that picture: the one I would give almost anything for, but could never have. I imagined what the kid’s thoughts would be when he looked at it: “Pelé, Platini, Beckenbauer… but who the hell is THAT guy?”

I’ve kicked myself for my stupidity. And I’ve learned not to be so stupid: years later, when I interviewed Leo Messi, Sachin Tendulkar and Neymar, I made sure I got pictures taken with them.

But that picture, THAT picture… it would never be mine.

Life sometimes throws up consolations. Yesterday, Pelé came to the New York offices of TIME for a photoshoot. I badgered my colleague, Belinda Luscombe, to let me sit in on the shoot. When the chance arose, I told Pelé the story about that night in Tokyo, 12 years ago. He didn’t remember the incident — Why would he? — but since he remains a genial, charming man, he kindly indulged my request for a picture. And he signed a miniature soccer ball I happened to have in my office.

All that remains now is to cling to the hope that life (or Luscombe) will somehow engineer encounters with Platini and Beckenbauer. When that happens, I know I will not hesitate.

TIME Davos

No, Iran’s Rouhani Doesn’t Tweet

Denis Balibouse / Reuters Iran's President Hassan Rouhani speaks during a session at the annual meeting of the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, on Jan. 23, 2014

Time to stop imagining he's some kind of hipster-cleric and judge him by what he does

What to make of the revelation that Hassan Rouhani doesn’t write his own tweets or Facebook updates? If he had been a Western leader, it would matter very little: after all, you have to be exceptionally credulous to believe President Barack Obama or Prime Minister David Cameron write all their own social-media messages. It’s generally expected and accepted that they have people to do that for them.

(MORE: Whom to Watch at the World Economic Forum in Davos)

But Rouhani is different. To many in the West (and not a few Iranians) the Twitter account @HassanRouhani has been a big part of the Iranian President’s appeal. It made him seem in touch with the modern world, a quality not associated with Iran’s recent leaders. It also made him seem simpatico with the aspirations of young Iranians. (The account has over 170,000 followers.)

Think back to the tweet last year from @HassanRouhani wishing Jews a happy Rosh Hashanah, and the frisson of excitement it sent around the world. The impression it gave was that this new Iranian leader was a very different quantity than his predecessor, who had suggested Israel should be annihilated and who questioned whether the Holocaust had taken place. Other tweets from the same account suggested that Rouhani favored more freedoms for Iran’s women, another departure from the norm.

(MORE: Iranian President Tweets Friendly Message to Jews)

Those who believed those messages came directly from the man had their bubble burst on Thursday. During a meeting with a small group of journalists at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Rouhani responded to a direct question with the confession that he doesn’t write the pithy messages on the social-media accounts associated with him: those are written by “friends,” he said.

The meeting was meant to be off the record, but when asked by journalists if he would allow that confession to be placed on the record, Rouhani readily agreed. (This was tweeted immediately by some of us in the room … I’m reasonably sure none of us have “friends” to do it for us!)

So what? The assembled journalists never got a chance to ask the President if he had wished Jewish people a happy new year, or whether he thought Iran’s women should have greater freedoms. But he didn’t suggest that his opinions diverge from those of the “friends” who write his tweets.

(MORE: The 5 Most Important Questions for the Davos Elite)

Here’s where this leaves us: we can all now stop paying attention to @HassanRouhani, and instead focus on Hassan Rouhani. Goodness knows there are plenty of ways in the real world to measure his performance as President. For the West, the most immediate test is in his ability to keep Tehran’s end of the bargain in the six-month freeze of its nuclear program that went into effect earlier this week. There’s also his readiness to make a long-term deal that reassured the world his country will not seek nuclear weapons. For Iranians, his credentials as a reformer will be judged by his ability to deliver on the promises he made during the election campaign last year. Will he, for instance, make it possible for them to have Twitter and Facebook accounts too?

At his formal address in Switzerland this week, Rouhani said most of the right things: Iran would honor the six-month freeze and sincerely seek a permanent agreement with the six world powers, he said. It would seek a peaceful resolution to the civil war in Syria. He also promised economic and political reforms that would help to unleash the potential of Iran’s youth.

He said these things, not his “friends.” Time now for the real Rouhani to please stand up.

MORE: Rouhani’s Real Test

TIME Davos

Will Japan and China Go to War?

Shinzo Abe
Michel Euler / AP Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe speaks at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, on Jan. 22, 2014

Japan's Abe worries a conflict could be sparked by something unexpected

Could Japan and China be on course to military conflict? Asia hands all over the Pacific Rim have recently been forced to contemplate the possibility by the bellicose war of words between Beijing and Tokyo over territorial disputes, increased military spending and a visit by Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to a controversial shrine for Japan’s war dead. But even those who game out the direst scenarios tend to add, “Surely not …”

Surely the world’s second and third largest economies have too much to lose from a war, even a small skirmish? Surely the rest of the world (and especially the U.S., the biggest power in the Pacific) would restrain both sides before it came to actual combat? Surely two modern nations won’t allow historical grievances and perceived slights to push them into war? Surely not.

But when Abe met with reporters and editors at the World Economic Forum in Davos this afternoon, he was at some pains to avoid the expression, “Surely not.”

(MORE: Chinese Envoy Calls Japanese PM Abe the ‘Biggest Troublemaker in Asia’)

Instead, Abe warned that something entirely unexpected could become the flash point for conflagration. “There may be some conflict or dispute arising out of the blue, on an ad hoc level … or inadvertently,” he said. He didn’t offer any examples, but in a different context pointed out that 2014 will mark the centenary of World War I. That calamity, the gathered journalists needed no reminding, started with an unexpected event: an assassination in Sarajevo.

It didn’t help that Abe offered no plan to tone down the tensions between the Asian giants. “Unfortunately, we don’t have a clear and explicit road map,” he said. It might help, he suggested without much conviction, if Beijing and Tokyo established a “military-force-level communications channel.”

And what would he expect the U.S. to do if the two countries came to blows? Abe skirted past the question of whether he expected Washington to take Japan’s side, but said he was already seeking closer military ties with the U.S.

(MORE: Forget Trade Talks, Biden Is in East Asia to Stop a Potential War)

He did, however, defend his visit to the controversial Yasukuni Shrine. Many Asian countries, including China, say some of the war dead who are commemorated there were war criminals, responsible for horrific acts during Japan’s occupation of much of East Asia. Abe said he was not the first Japanese leader to visit the shrine, and that his predecessors as Prime Minister had collectively visited it 65 times. Critics of his visit simply misunderstood his intentions, he said.

China would have the most to lose from war, Abe suggested, pointing out that conflict would slow the economic growth that the government in Beijing needs to preserve its legitimacy. The Prime Minister made no mention of the cost to his own country, but allowed that a Sino-Japanese war would disrupt the world economy.

TIME

Whom to Watch at the World Economic Forum in Davos

A technician checks the light in the Congress Hall before the start of the annual meeting of the World Economic Forum (WEF) 2014 in Davos Jan. 21, 2014
Denis Balibouse / Reuters

As the World Economic Forum (WEF) kicks off Tuesday in the snowbound Swiss town of Davos, more than 40 heads of state and government will be competing to make a lasting impression, for themselves and their countries, among the 2,500 participants. Here are five who will have a head start:

Maryam Rahmanian for The Washington Post / Getty Images

Hassan Rouhani
Depending on how things are progressing in another part of Switzerland — Montreaux, scene of the Syria peace talks — Iran’s president may be just a little distracted during his Davos debut. But the purpose of his trip is to take advantage of the momentum from the Jan. 20 start of the six-month nuclear freeze agreement between Iran and the six world powers. Rouhani’s message: As the negotiating parties begin work on a long-term deal, Iran is open for business. It isn’t really: most of the economic sanctions imposed by the U.S. and Europe remain in place. But Rouhani’s trip is mostly about optics. Iran, he will be saying, is no longer an international pariah. He delivers a special address on Thursday.

Benjamin Netanyahu
Gali Tibbon / AFP / Getty Images

Benjamin Netanyahu
Israel’s prime minister follows Rouhani (a few hours later) with a discussion on Israel’s economic and political outlook. Netanyahu will keep up his rhetoric about Tehran being an unreliable negotiator. Don’t buy the peace deal, he will say, it’s just a smokescreen that allows Iran to build nuclear weapons. But that message didn’t get much traction at the U.N. General Assembly in New York City last fall, where Rouhani’s charm offensive won the day. Netanyahu is unlikely to find many takers in Davos.

Enrique Pena Nieto
Omar Torres / AFP / Getty Images

Enrique Pena Nieto
Mexico’s president is one of the WEF’s Young Global Leaders, and his country is making a splash at Davos this year. He will be seeking to capitalize on Mexico’s growing economy, which has recently become the country’s dominant narrative, overtaking the usual stories about drug cartels and kidnappings. If potential investors are impressed by energy, Pena Nieto will display plenty of it: he will deliver a special address and participate in two panel discussions, all on a single day, Thursday.

Dilma Rousseff
Evaristo Sa / AFP / Getty Images

Dilma Rousseff
The president of Brazil makes her first appearance in Davos just as tough questions are being asked about her country’s economic prospects. Three years of lackluster growth have some wondering if Brazil should lose its place among the BRICS. There are doubts, too, about the country’ ability to host soccer’s World Cup this summer. Top all that off with lingering fears of political unrest, after last year’s massive street demonstrations. Rousseff delivers a special address on Friday.

Jiji Press / AFP / Getty ImagesShinzo Abe

Shinzo Abe
Japan’s prime minister has stirred things up in Asia over the past couple of years. His country’s economy has been doing remarkably well, but Abe’s aggressive rhetoric and military muscle-flexing has annoyed China and South Korea, while winning some praise from other Asian nations that see Japan as a bulwark against an increasingly militaristic China. The Chinese president and prime minister won’t be at Davos, but perhaps South Korea’s President Park Geun-Hye will have a cautionary word or two? Abe and Park both speak on Wednesday.

TIME photo essay

The Superstar and the Sex Symbol: The World’s Highest Ranking Chess Champions

When Viswanathan Anand and Magnus Carlsen lean over the chessboard at Chennai’s Hyatt Regency on Nov. 9 for Game 1 of the World Chess Championship, it will mark the coming together of the sport’s first superstar with its first sex symbol.

When Viswanathan Anand and Magnus Carlsen lean over the chessboard at Chennai’s Hyatt Regency on Nov. 9 for Game 1 of the World Chess Championship, it will mark the coming together of the sport’s first superstar with its first sex symbol. It will be arguably the most closely watched contest since the 1972 Cold War confrontation in Reykjavík, Iceland, between American Bobby Fischer and Russian Boris Spassky.

(Also on LightBox: Searching For …and Finding Bobby Fischer: Photographs by Harry Benson)

Anand, 43, the reigning champ, may be the only chess player in the world who risks being mobbed in the street, at least in his native India. Millions of his countrymen watched on live TV — yes, live TV! — when he first won the title in 2000. That’s still the highest sporting achievement by an Indian, and it led to a huge revival of chess in a country that claims to have invented the sport. Millions of Indian kids now forced by their parents to take chess lessons have Anand to blame.

If Anand has the greater fan following of the two, Carlsen, 22, has more groupies. The Norwegian with the smoldering good looks and six-pack abs has been featured in advertising campaigns as a clotheshorse alongside the likes of Liv Tyler, and turned down a small role in the most recent Star Trek movie.

As they prepared for the championship, the two grand masters granted highly unusual access to photographer Misha Friedman, himself a former competitive player at schoolboy level in the USSR in the 1980s and in the U.S. in the 1990s. Friedman recalls reading about the great duels between Garry Kasparov and Anatoly Karpov, and being fascinated by the idea of chess champions preparing for a battle of wits. The images he captured of Anand and Carlsen reveal that it’s as much physical as psychological. Anand pumps weights, Carlsen plays volleyball: even in this brainiest of contests, brawn matters.

Carlsen is the hot favorite: he’s ranked No. 1 in the world by FIDE, the World Chess Federation, and may be the best player in the history of the sport. Chess skills are measured by a complex formula known as the Elo rating system, and Carlsen’s rating of 2872 last February was the highest ever recorded. Only six players have topped 2800, and Anand’s best is 2817. (Fischer’s was 2785.)

But the world championship is as much about temperament and tenacity as about technical skill, and it would be foolish to rule out Anand, a five-time winner of the competition, now with home-turf advantage. If he wins, he may never be able to walk in the streets again.


Misha Friedman is a photographer based in New York. LightBox previously featured his work on Tuberculosis in Ukraine.

Bobby Ghosh is the editor of TIME International. Follow him on Twitter @ghoshworld.


TIME photo essay

The End of al-Qaeda? On Patrol in Yemen by Yuri Kozyrev

TIME contract photographer Yuri Kozyrev and editor-at-large Bobby Ghosh traveled to southern Abyan province in Yemen for this week's cover story in TIME International. Here, Ghosh recounts their travels with a Yemeni Central Security Force (CSF) patrol through territory plagued by al-Qaeda.

Yuri Kozyrev and I have spent more hours than we care to remember on ’embed’ with the great militaries of the world—American, Russian, NATO, Indian. But a chance to travel with a Yemeni Central Security Force (CSF) patrol in the southern Abyan province had both of us filled with nervous excitement. We were keenly aware that Yemen, a desperately poor nation at the bottom of the Arabian Peninsula, doesn’t exactly have the best-equipped army. And yet this army had just dealt al-Qaeda a major military blow in Abyan, earning the respect of all soldiers who have fought against fanatical jihadists, and those of us who have covered those battles.

We were told to bring our own vehicle because the CSF patrol was comprised of a single Toyota pickup truck, and there was no room for passengers. We met our escort on the outskirts of the port of Aden on a day the temperature topped 120 degrees and the humidity, 90%. In that heat, Yuri and I were grateful that, unlike the U.S. military, the Yemeni CSF did not require us to wear body-armor: the soldiers had none themselves. But we knew we were going into towns and villages where many al-Qaeda fighters were still at large, living among the population and just waiting for a chance to strike at the Yemeni military. The leader of our patrol, 2nd Lieutenant Tariq Bishr, warned us that we could take sniper fire at any moment.

TIME

There was also a risk we could hit a landmine: the retreating jihadists had planted thousands of them on the roads leading to the major towns of Zinjibar and Jaar. In those towns, many homes and offices were booby-trapped, designed to kill civilians (many of whom had fled when al-Qaeda had taken over) as they came home.

But if any of this worried Yuri, he didn’t show it: I’ve known from working with him for a decade that he is unflinchingly fearless under fire. He quickly developed a rapport with the soldiers in our patrol, overcoming any concerns they may have had about having to baby-sit a pair of foreigners in a dangerous place. At the start of the patrol, Lieutenant Bishr and his men were nervous about Yuri’s camera, mainly because it attracted too much attention from bystanders. But within a couple of hours, the soldiers had become Yuri’s spotters, pointing out photo opportunities and posing for pictures themselves.

The result is this series of pictures, which offers a rare glimpse into an important battlefield in the war on terror. But it’s worth remembering these were only possible because of the valor of Lieutenant Bishr and his men.

Bobby Ghosh is an editor-at-large at TIME. Read his cover story from Yemen in this week’s issue of TIME here.

Yuri Kozyrev is a contract photographer for TIME and was named the 2011 Photographer of the Year in the Pictures of the Year International competition.

TIME photo essay

TIME Style&Design: Travels Through Bhutan

Bhutan receives fewer visitors in a year than New York City does in a day. The country's breathtaking vistas and rich culture, captured here by Photographer Bharat Sikka, remain despite recent steps towards modernity.

When I first visited Bhutan, I was all of 7 years old. My memories from the trip are, at best, vague. I remember the long, tedious bus ride from the Indian border to Thimphu, and I have some recollection of a ceiling—possibly in a monastery—painted with dragons and other fantastic creatures. What I don’t recall at all is the astonishing natural beauty of this Himalayan paradise, the grandeur of its forts and palaces, the serene calm of its people. Such things are lost on little boys.

Happily, the best things about Bhutan have not changed a great deal since my youth. The gorgeous vistas, grand ‘dzhongs’ and graceful people were all in abundance during my visit this summer. To travel through the country, from Thimphu to Bumthang, Punakha and Paro, is to be treated to a succession of jaw-dropping panoramas of mountains, valleys and rivers, punctuated by fabulous man-made landmarks. (Yes, there are still dragons on the ceilings!)

My enjoyment of these was heightened by the knowledge that so few people get to enjoy them: Bhutan receives fewer visitors in a year than New York City, my home, gets every day! One consequence is that Bhutanese have not grown blasé of tourists: there is a genuine warmth toward, and curiosity about, visitors. Many of my interviews were topsy-turvy: I ended up being the one answering questions!

But Bhutan is not some magic land trapped in time, even though people frequently compare it with the fictional Shangri-La. It is a country evolving from a monarchy to a democracy; the first elected government is just four years old. It is also embracing, with appropriate caution, the trappings of modernity. Young people favor jeans and t-shirts over the traditional robes, the karaoke bars are full of customers belting out Bollywood numbers, and although major international retail chains are absent, one ingenious local businessman has named his grocery shop “Eight Eleven.”

Photographer Bharat Sikka captures Bhutan’s evolution in this series of images from our trip together.

Bobby Ghosh is an editor-at-large at TIME. Read his full story from Bhutan at TIME’s new Style blog.

Bharat Sikka is a Delhi-based photographer. See more of his work here.

TIME photo essay

The New Islamists: Photographs by Yuri Kozyrev

Morocco's Islamists are not seeking to take their country back to some ancient golden age, but instead trying to bring it to the 21st Century without losing its religious moorings.

Last month TIME contract photographer Yuri Kozyrev and I went to Rabat and Casablanca to report on a story about the rise of Political Islam in the countries of the Arab Spring. As with Tunisia and Egypt, free elections in Morocco have brought to power an Islamist party, the Justice and Development Party (PJD). But these, as we discovered, are not your father’s Islamists. They defy the Western stereotype of bushy-bearded, wild-eyed religious fanatics: Morocco’s Islamists are not seeking to take their country back to some ancient golden age, they are trying to figure how to bring it to the 21st century without losing its religious moorings. In this, they are similar to Islamists now heading governments in Tunis and Cairo. The pursuit and attainment of political power have forced these parties to abandon radical ideas and distance themselves from their lunatic fringes. Instead, they are moving to the political center.

Morocco has drawn tourists for centuries, and to most visitors cities like Rabat and Casablanca are a pleasant combination of the modern and the ancient. In this set of images, Yuri captures both aspects of the country.

Read more: The Converted: Has Power Tamed Islamists in the Arab Spring States?

Yuri Kozyrev is a contract photographer for TIME and was just named the 2011 Photographer of the Year in the Pictures of the Year International competition.

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