TIME World Cup

Jennifer Lopez Will Perform at the World Cup After All

Jennifer Lopez performs onstage during the 2014 Billboard Music Awards at the MGM Grand Garden Arena on May 18, 2014 in Las Vegas.
Christopher Polk—Billboard Award/Getty Images for DCP Jennifer Lopez performs onstage during the 2014 Billboard Music Awards at the MGM Grand Garden Arena on May 18, 2014 in Las Vegas.

She'll join Pitbull and others onstage in São Paulo for the opening ceremonies on Thursday night

Just two days after “production issues” impelled her to cancel her World Cup performance, Jennifer Lopez is back in, apparently “not [wanting] to disappoint her fans.”

AFP reports that more than 60,000 people will fill the Corinthians Arena in São Paulo on Thursday night to watch the World Cup’s opening ceremonies, where J. Lo will join American rapper Pitbull and Brazilian acts Claudia Leitte and Olodum onstage to launch a month of soccer matches across Brazil.

The media first speculated that she canceled because of financial constraints, but her representatives insist that the decision, and the conjecture around it, was “premature.”

Premature or not, it gave plenty of fodder to the online gossip arena, which ventured that Lopez’s World Cup cancellation — and her decision to also bail on a charity concert in New York City last week — had something to do with her recent breakup with a dancer and choreographer named Casper Smart, who allegedly cheated on her with some transgender models (he vigorously denies the allegations).

TIME World Cup

Twitter Says World Cup Will Be Most Tweeted Event Ever

The soccer tournament is expected to smash the 150 million tweet record set by the London Olympics in 2012

Get your hashtags ready: A Twitter exec says that the 2014 World Cup in Brazil will be the most tweeted-about event ever.

While the 2012 London Olympics cumulated 150 million tweets, Brazil’s Twitter director Guilherme Ribenboim told Reuters, “The World Cup will take all that to a whole different level.”

With knowledge that 3.2 billion people watched at least some of the 2010 World Cup, Facebook and Twitter are working on various strategies to be the main hubs for World Cup conversation. Not only do all 32 participating teams have Twitter accounts, but many of the players do too. The social platform itself is also creating a landing page full of scores and team information under the hashtag #worldcup. Facebook has a similar page called Trending World Cup.

The World Cup will kick off June 12 and last for a month.


TIME World Cup

Backlit Brazil: Photographing Silhouettes

Photographer Mario Tama explores silhouettes of people going through their daily life in Brazil—from shadows of workers constructing stages for the World Cup to crowds filling Rio de Janeiro beaches

TIME World Cup

These Soccer Fans Wear Their Loyalties On Their Skin

If there was a World Cup for tattoos, these superfans would be competing for the trophy

Jerseys fade, face paint smears, and those foam “number 1″ fingers get bent out of shape – eventually — but there are more enduring expressions of loyalty toward one team, like full-body jersey tattoos. Soccer fans take team spirit to new heights with permanent ink.

TIME Football

A Subway Strike Threatens to Paralyze São Paulo on World Cup Opening Day

Policemen in riot gear stand inside Ana Rosa subway station during the fifth day of metro worker's protest in Sao Paulo on June 9, 2014.
Kai Pfaffenbach—Reuters Policemen in riot gear stand inside Ana Rosa subway station during the fifth day of metro worker's protest in Sao Paulo on June 9, 2014.

The first game of the World Cup, Brazil vs. Croatia, may take place in crippling traffic chaos on Thursday, if São Paulo's subway employees make good on a threat to strike if sacked comrades are not reinstated

Subway workers in São Paulo ended a five-day strike late Monday, but threatened to walk out again on Thursday, the day of the World Cup opening game, if their demands aren’t met, potentially causing chaos and embarrassment to Brazil’s largest city, which is currently teeming with soccer fans from around the world.

The strike started as a fight over salary, but has turned into a struggle to reinstate 42 subway workers who were fired over allegations of vandalism and misconduct.

“The other demands aren’t a priority anymore,” said the metro workers’ union president Altino de Melo Prazeres Júnior, adding that the union members going back to work was showing “good faith in wanting to negotiate.”

However, State Transportation Secretary Jurandir Fernandes said the government would not budge on its position that the sacked workers shouldn’t be rehired and a wage hike should be limited to 8.7%, as opposed to the workers’ demand of 12.2%.

“This shows [the striking subway workers’] disregard not only for the people of São Paulo, but for the people of Brazil and the foreign visitors,” he said.

A labor judge ruled the strike illegal over the weekend, imposing a $222,000 fine on the union for each day workers fail to show up on duty. Still, the strike spilled over into Monday, when police clashed with protesting workers outside a metro station in São Paulo, using tear gas and arresting 13 people.

The opening game of the World Cup will be played in São Paulo between Brazil and Croatia. Union leaders said a Wednesday vote would decide whether the workers should go back on strike or not.


TIME animals

This Beagle Is Quite Skilled at Soccer

Somebody get him to Rio for the World Cup immediately

If watching humans play soccer isn’t your thing, try watching this dog instead. He’s pretty talented. Plus, he apparently knows how to walk on his front legs.

TIME World Cup

Brazil Prepares for the World Cup with Mixed Emotions

An activist holds a protest poster in front of the municipal stadium prior to a training session by Japan's national soccer in Sorocaba
Maxim Shemetov—Reuters An activist holds a protest poster in front of the municipal stadium prior to a training session by Japan's national soccer in the town of Sorocaba, June 8, 2014.

Many in the soccer-mad nation are angry at the cost and mismanagement of preparations for the tournament

When Brazil kicks off against Croatia on Thursday in the first game of the 2014 World Cup, Brazilians will celebrate the return of soccer’s premier tournament for the first time since 1950 to the country that most of the world sees as the true home of soccer. But it will likely be a bittersweet celebration, marred by anger as much as by the inevitable partying. That’s because the run-up to the World Cup has, in many respects, been an $11 billion showcase for the deficiencies of a nation that can seem so confident and yet still finding its feet as a major economic and political power.

Many of the stadiums built or renovated for the tournament are only just ready after embarrassing delays, airport buildings will remain unfinished, and some infrastructure projects have not even started. Brazilians are furious about the public money being spent when many Brazilians remain living in poverty and when many basic government services are crying out for investment. A poll published on June 2 revealed that only a slender majority of Brazilians remain in favor of the World Cup – 51% – compared with 42% who are against it.

“For the first time in my life there is no euphoria in the air at the prospect of a World Cup,” says Milton Hatoum, aged 61, who is one of Brazil’s best known novelists.

Brazilians are also depressed by the incompetence, corruption and greed of those in charge. About two million people took part in protests against the World Cup last year, and more demonstrations are planned once the games are underway.

The poll numbers suggest that the Brazilian government and Brazil’s soccer authorities have made a mess of an event that they hoped would give the country a huge boost. It is particularly embarrassing since the sport remains its most important symbol of national identity. “São Paulo feels quiet. Only a few streets are painted with murals. I’m not seeing a party atmosphere,” says Hatoum of his home city, which is hosting the opening game on Thursday.

But some observers of the role soccer plays in Brazil believe that the lack of enthusiasm, and even outright hostility to the World Cup this year will give way to Brazil’s outsized passion for soccer as soon as the tournament begins. “There’s no way that the World Cup will fail to take off,” wrote Tostão, a veteran of Brazil’s 1970 World Cup-winning side, in his column in the Folha de S. Paulo newspaper last week. “There is an avalanche of adverts and news stories, thousands of people want to make money from it, there is a huge nationalistic sentiment, the feeling that we need to party in the streets has surged in the last few days and – most importantly – the national team is playing well and its star forward player [Neymar] is magisterial.”

Some Brazilians believe that for all the anger at the way the World Cup there are signs that fans will be swept up by the pure joy of the games. Last year at the Confederations Cup – which marked the start of the anti-World Cup protests – the crowd sang the Brazilian national anthem so loudly and determinedly that they broke with protocol and kept on singing after the recorded music had stopped. The anger at the authorities was channeled into a rousing and patriotic wall of sound.

And then there’s the Neymar factor. For the first time since the golden era of Ronaldo, Ronaldinho and Kaká ended almost a decade ago, Brazil once again has a contender for the best player in the world. Neymar is loved not only because he plays well, but also because he plays in a very Brazilian way. His game is based around improvisation, teasing dribbles and sublime ball skills – what Brazilians call “futebol-arte”, or artistic soccer. Neymar’s charisma on the pitch makes Brazilians proud not just of him, but of themselves.

“Neymar is not quite at level of [Lionel] Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo but he has a bigger repertory of beautiful plays, with more special tricks. He plays like a child at an informal kickabout game, always up for having fun and dribbling past whoever gets in his way,” wrote Tostão.

So long as Neymar is on form, Brazilian fans believe their team can win the World Cup for the sixth time. If they do, the tournament will be remembered as an $11 billion showcase for Brazil’s sporting supremacy rather than as the public relations disaster it has been so far.

A win may alleviate public anger at the mismanagement of the event, but this is likely only to be temporary since the preparations for the Rio de Janeiro 2016 Olympics are already beset with similar problems.“Of course Brazilians will support their team, and if they are champions there will be huge celebrations. But the joy at the football does not exclude the anger. What’s different about this World Cup is that for the first time Brazilians have realized that there are some things that are more important than football,” says Hatoum.

Brazil may not win, of course. Failure to secure the trophy would be a huge disappointment, but it would not be a disaster on the scale of what happened the last time Brazil hosted the World Cup. In 1950 Brazil lost the final game against Uruguay, a result that is widely considered the greatest tragedy in contemporary Brazilian history. The trauma reinforced a sense of failure and insecurity that scarred the national psyche for the next decades – even once it had won the tournament in 1958, 1962 and 1970.

But contemporary Brazil is a very different place from the Brazil of 1950. The country is now not only known for soccer. It is the world’s seventh biggest economy, an agricultural superpower, and it has huge untapped resources of oil and gas. Brazilian sportsmen have won tennis grand slams, motor racing championships and track-and-field world records.

Winning the World Cup would be cause for the world’s biggest street party. But unlike in 1950, a loss would not leave such a huge scar. Even as they prepare to host the world’s greatest soccer tournament, Brazilians know that there is a lot more to their country than the beautiful game.

Bellos is the author of Futebol: The Brazilian Way of Life

TIME World Cup

The Brazilian Stadiums Where The World Cup Will Be Decided

These are the 11 soccer stadiums, both old and newly constructed, where 32 teams will battle it out for the chance to win the FIFA World Cup trophy

TIME the backstory

Behind the Scenes of the Beats by Dr. Dre World Cup Commercial

Photographer-turned-filmmaker Nabil Elderkin tells TIME how he came to direct Beats by Dr. Dre 2014 World Cup commercial - The Game Before the Game.

The World Cup isn’t just about the love of soccer. With close to a billion viewers expected to follow this year’s matches, the world’s largest sporting event inspires sponsors and broadcasters to spend enormous amounts of money to pitch their products to the crowds.

Earlier this month, as they do every four years, both Nike and Adidas unveiled their cinematic commercial campaigns. This time around, however, there’s a new entrant in this strongly contested field.

Last week, Beats by Dr. Dre joined the fray with “The Game Before the Game,” a five-minute spot chronicling the pre-game rituals of athletes like Brazilian star Neymar, who is seen in a phone conversation with his father ahead of Brazil’s opening World Cup match. The video also features Germany’s Mario Götze, Mexico’s Chicharito and other guest stars from Serena Williams to Lil Wayne.

To direct the shoot, Beats called on photographer-turned-filmmaker Nabil Elderkin, who’s made his name directing videos by Kanye West, Bon Iver and Nicki Minaj, among many others.

While directing notoriously temperamental musicians can be tricky, bringing athletes together can be a logistical nightmare.

“A music video is generally shot over one or two days, maximum,” Nabil tells TIME. “The artist is confirmed for that day, and there’s a narrative planned for the shoot. I also can talk with the musicians about the videos to make sure we’re on the same page. With the Beats spot, we had to work around these athletes’ schedules, which can change daily as they have intense schedules during the season, especially leading up to the World Cup. I also hadn’t met them prior to the shoot.”

Yet, says Nabil, it all went smoothly. “The feeling I got from the get-go was that the whole project was driven by the tight relationships Beats has with these talents. The athletes and musicians worked with us as if we were all part of the same family. It didn’t feel like they were just sponsored athletes endorsing a product. They were happy to be involved and this really made the shooting environment much more relaxed and intimate.”

“The Game Before the Game” was filmed and post-produced over six weeks. “I worked with Omar Johnson, Beats’ vice-president of marketing. His goal was to keep the team lean, agile and aggressive. He didn’t want a large production because we knew that we would need to be opportunistic. I feel this approach really helped in creating an intimate setting where these players were comfortable to share with us their actual pre-game rituals, which are very personal. It also helped us in being able to bounce around the world efficiently.”

Nabil worked days and nights for a month across eight different time zones. “The lack of sleep never helps you stay as creative as you want, but we went for it. The cinematographer, Danny Hiele, and I had a few hairy moments in the helicopter over Rio when the weather was windy and stormy – altitude drops when flying in a helicopter are definitely ‘God-help-me’ moments. Danny was literally hanging out of the plane with a massive camera and just a single-strap seatbelt holding him in.”

The results, however, have evidently been worth the effort. The clip has already accrued 7 million views on YouTube and stands out from, for example, Adidas’s official 2014 clip — in part, says Nabil, thanks to Beats’ take on the film’s production. “Beats wanted to do it more like a music video as opposed to a commercial. In the end, music wins.”

And for Nabil, music has always been an integral part of his life. He got his first break when, in 2000, he registered the domain name http://www.kanyewest.com. That was before the rapper had signed his first label. The two became friends, and when the photographer looked to expand his horizons with video, West hired him to direct a few of his songs. “Kanye and John Legend gave me the opportunity to try my own video,” he says. “These videos had low budgets and were for non-single songs, but that gave me a little more freedom to play around, which really was a great learning experience. I did some weird videos. When I listen to music that moves me, it conjures stories and imagery. Weird things happen in my head.”

Now, the photographer is looking to direct his first feature film. But in the meantime, he wouldn’t say no to “a good surfing trip with some of my friends,” he says. “I’ve been talking about doing that for the past seven years. It’s about time.”

Nabil Elderkin is a photographer and director based in Los Angeles.

Olivier Laurent is the editor of TIME LightBox. Follow him on twitter @olivierclaurent.

TIME Art Rickerby

Dear Brazil: Missing Neymar? Remember When Pelé Went Down—and You Still Won

Despite Neymar's absence, Brazil and its fans can perhaps take heart from the 1962 World Cup, when the green and yellow won without its superstar, Pelé.

“In Brazil, Pelé is protected like a natural resource,” Miguel Acoga wrote about the soccer legend in a 1966 issue of LIFE magazine. But during the 1966 World Cup—pictured above and famously won by England on English soil—Pelé’s teammates could do little to shield the superstar from hard tackles and outright foul play by opposing teams. In fact, the 26-year-old forward was so badly injured during Brazil’s second match, against Portugal, that he was effectively knocked out of the tournament. For its part, Brazil was eliminated in the first round—its worst performance in Cup history.

Of course, by the time the ’66 Cup rolled around, the man born Edson Arantes do Nascimento was already regarded as the greatest living footballer, so it surprised no one that he was targeted by the competition.

Today, history might be repeating itself, as Brazil’s current face of fútbol, Neymar, will miss the rest of the 2014 Cup after Colombia’s Juan Zuniga violently took him down with a knee to the back that fractured a vertebra in the electrifying striker’s spine. Still, there remains a glimmer of hope for Brazilian fans. In 1962, four years before Brazil’s dreadful showing in ’66, Pelé was seen as an immense threat to the competition—and he was injured in a game against Czechoslovakia. Brazil nevertheless went on to win the Cup, without their star.

Brazilians—and those who, during this tournament, have rooted for Brazil—hope the soccer gods will grace them again this year, on Verde-Amarela’s (the green and yellow’s) home turf.

New York native Adam Glanzman is a Photo Intern at TIME.com. See his personal photography at adamglanzmanphotography.com and follow him @glanzpiece.

Your browser is out of date. Please update your browser at http://update.microsoft.com