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FLYING DUTCHMAN

Updated: May 15, 2022


In the last text of “Por Trás da Foto”, I talked a little about what coverage of a World Cup is like when the photographer has to be “glued” to a single team: it's 24 hours on so you don't miss something. games, we have to work at the hotel where the team is staying and occasionally photograph an exclusive interview, in addition to accompanying the athletes on their days off on outings such as golfing or shopping in a shopping center.


That's what I did for exactly 44 days in the South African Cup in 2010. At that time I worked at Folha de S. Paulo and we landed in the African country a little before the Brazilian team. It was a big team, but I and a few other reporters were the first to arrive from the newspaper. We carried out the first logistical tasks (car rental, check-in at the hotel in Johannesburg and opening our press HQ at the national team's hotel) and waited for the Brazilian team to arrive. It can be said that these first days were the “calm days”.


After the national team's plane touched down on African soil, the rush began: athletes disembarking, first training sessions, press conferences and two trips to friendly matches: to Zimbabwe and Tanzania - this game in Tanzania was covered by the newspaper's other photographer, Eduardo Knapp. There were two of us in our daily life in Brazil.


As the team trained during the day, I managed to sneak out to photograph the matches that were held at night in Johannesburg. I played several games for other teams. It was pulled, but I couldn't miss this chance. If there's one thing I always think about when I'm on a coverage like this, it's: "will I ever do this event again?"


So, for 44 days this was my routine: Brazilian team during the day and games at night, in addition, of course, to the trips that the Brazilian team took when playing outside Johannesburg.


Anyway, after the elimination of Brazil, everything changed. The majority of Folha's professionals would return to Brazil, as there was no longer so much demand for the service. My boss at the time consulted us about it and I offered to stay until the end of the Worlds, after all: ”will I do this event again one day?”


Our coverage reality was now different. In theory, there was more time to cover other games and really "see" South Africa. Our first stop was Cape Town, where Uruguay x Holland would play in the semi-final. Uruguay was one of the sensations of the World Cup and came from a classification dramatic and unbelievable against Ghana. In addition, there was Forlan, who was famous in that Cup for his goals and for leading the team. The Netherlands had a team and stars like Sneijder and Robben.


As I said before, until Brazil left the championship I had a few chances to photograph other games. I also watched several on TV. Including some from Holland. Robben for me was a genius player. Despite almost always making the same move (cut from right to left and left-handed cross kick) he was hardly contained.


I remember that I arrived at the stadium before the game and as I had no preference in choosing my seat (in World Cup games, FIFA gives preference first to photographers from the same country as the teams that will be at the game, then to professionals from the host country and finally to the other photographers) I ended up with a chair on the side of the lawn, a little beyond the penalty area line.


As expected it was a game. Holland made it 1x0, Uruguay soon equalized and in the second half Holland broke the tie with a goal from Sneijder. Until at 28 of the second half, Robben made the third with a header. The Dutchman tested for the goal, went out to celebrate to the opposite side of where I was but quickly turned around and came running in the direction where I and the other photographers were positioned. From watching a lot of Robben's games, I knew there was a good chance he would celebrate by jumping up and landing on his knees, making that slip on the grass. That's why I was during the whole game with another camera with a 24-70mm as a second body. The big question in these moments is: when do we stop using the telephoto and take the second camera? It's all too fast.

I remember that as soon as he turned around and came towards us, I already abandoned the 400mm telephoto lens and pulled out the 24-70mm. That image of him slipping soon came to my mind. That's why I ended up getting this photo below, with him still in the air, just before he "landed".


In football, behind a good photo, there is always a mixture of luck, preparation and knowledge of what or who you are photographing.

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