Fan Faces from the #WorldCup, Rio de Janeiro

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Fan Faces from the #WorldCup, Rio de Janeiro

From the opening match between Brazil and Croatia, I knew that I’ve never experienced a sporting event like the World Cup and would probably never see anything like it again.

I didn’t fly in for the tournament like thousands of others. Instead, Rio de Janeiro is currently my home. I’ve watched the city’s excitement steadily grow as the World Cup drew nearer–streamers and flags hung and Cariocas proudly sporting their country’s colors. Take away the very small number of protesters and I’ve seen a unified and welcoming city.

Brazil World Cup Rio de Janeiro World Cup Crowd4 Fan Faces from the #WorldCup, Rio de Janeiro

Many would argue that Brazil is the spiritual home of futbol, and the country hosting the World Cup is like pouring gas on a flame. It’s difficult to put into words the atmosphere of Rio when Brazil is playing. The hours leading up to the matches are frenzied–horns, whistles, the pounding of drums, fireworks, and people cheering in the streets. Cariocas are given at least half days off for the matches, even if they’re not being played in the city. Bars and restaurants are filled to the brim, and humble beach kiosks have sandy customers glued to small televisions.

In stark contrast, once the game begins the city is eerily quiet. It’s like the apocalypse has arrived. Beaches and streets are deserted, and stores are either closed or empty. Only after Brazil scores a goal are you reminded that you’re in a city of over six million. The din of cheers is deafening.

Brazil World Cup Rio de Janeiro World Cup Mascot22 Fan Faces from the #WorldCup, Rio de Janeiro

The World Cup is more than a massive sports-themed party. It’s a connector. People from around the globe are brought together by their love of futbol and country. I’ve seen a rainbow of nations together hoisting beers and reliving the day’s matches. It’s not about politics, religion, or country borders.

It’s about futbol.

From the moment I witnessed the throng of fans along Copacabana during the World Cup’s opening match, I knew that I wanted to capture people from each of the 32 nations. Between the enthusiasm, costumes, national pride, and alcohol, the fans have become my favorite thing about the World Cup. Some countries have been simple to find, while others have proved to be elusive. I’m currently missing seven five countries, but I will continue to seek them out.

Algeria

I was hoping to get a group shot of the Algerians, but they were intently negotiating the price and validity of a pair of tickets. I wouldn’t dare interrupt such important business. Meanwhile, the only other Algerian I saw was cashing in on his 15 minutes of fame by doing a TV interview.

Brazil World Cup Rio de Janeiro Algeria211 Fan Faces from the #WorldCup, Rio de Janeiro

Brazil World Cup Rio de Janeiro Algeria14 Fan Faces from the #WorldCup, Rio de Janeiro

Argentina

Honestly, I don’t know who is actually left in Argentina, because it feels like the entire country is in Rio. These guys were absolutely nuts. As they danced down Copacabana singing, other Argentinians joined in. It was like some kind of baby blue Broadway show. There’s not much that makes me laugh more than watching Brazilians roll their eyes when Argentinians break into song. It’s such a great rivalry.

Brazil World Cup Rio de Janeiro Argentina8 Fan Faces from the #WorldCup, Rio de Janeiro

Australia

I’ve seen quite a few Aussies, and they’ve all been mild mannered. I know. SHOCKING. But next to the Argentinians, every other fan appears to be in a coma.

Brazil World Cup Rio de Janeiro Australia17 Fan Faces from the #WorldCup, Rio de Janeiro

Brazil World Cup Rio de Janeiro Australia27 Fan Faces from the #WorldCup, Rio de Janeiro

Belgium

After over a week of searching, I finally spotted these two Belgian fans. Sitting at the table next to me, they were celebrating Belgium’s victory over Russia.

Brazil World Cup Rio de JaneiroBelgium1 Fan Faces from the #WorldCup, Rio de Janeiro

Bosnia and Herzegovina

These three weren’t what you’d call gregarious, but were nice enough to let me take their photo. Now, I did have dinner next to two guys from Bosnia, and they were much more talkative. As children they’d fled to Copenhagen during the war, and when B & G qualified for the World Cup, the guys decided to support their birth country by following the team around Brazil.

Brazil World Cup Rio de Janeiro Bosnia19 Fan Faces from the #WorldCup, Rio de Janeiro

Brazil

As you can imagine, I have my pick of Brazilian fans. Rio has been drenched in green and gold for nearly a month, but these two fan photos are my favorites.

This little girl was shopping for a new game day shirt with her grandmother when she took off her Brazil-themed headband and fixed her hair. She just might be the next Adriana Lima.

While everyone was intently watching the final minutes of the Brazil vs Croatia match, I was watching the crowd. Just seconds after I snapped this photo, this woman and the crowd erupted as Brazil scored its third and final goal of the game.

Brazil World Cup Rio de Janeiro Brazil21 Fan Faces from the #WorldCup, Rio de Janeiro

Brazil World Cup Rio de Janeiro Brazil2 Fan Faces from the #WorldCup, Rio de Janeiro

Cameroon

In Rio, Cameroon fans are as elusive as a one-piece bathing suit. I did happen to see this guy, who isn’t actually from Cameroon, but was sporting the jersey. I’ll take what I can get.

Brazil World Cup Rio de Janeiro Cameroon1 Fan Faces from the #WorldCup, Rio de Janeiro

Chile

There are a ton of Chilean fans in Rio, and I have a love-hate relationship with them. Every time I see their flag I do a double take. It is far too similar to my beloved Texas flag.

Brazil World Cup Rio de Janeiro Chile26 Fan Faces from the #WorldCup, Rio de Janeiro

Brazil World Cup Rio de Janeiro Chile21 Fan Faces from the #WorldCup, Rio de Janeiro

Colombia

Though they be but small in number, they are fierce. Cheer on, Colombia!

Brazil World Cup Rio de Janeiro Colombia216 Fan Faces from the #WorldCup, Rio de Janeiro

Costa Rica

According to oddsmakers, Costa Rica was the longest of long shots to win the World Cup. However, after great showings against Uruguay and Italy, the Ticos are propelled to the round of 16. I’d imagine that beating Italy was easier than finding an actual Costa Rican fan on the streets of Rio. Thank goodness for this guy. Pura Vida!

Brazil World Cup Rio de Janeiro Costa Rica1 Fan Faces from the #WorldCup, Rio de Janeiro

Croatia

Let it be known that I’ve seen several Croatian fans sporting their checker board jerseys. However, none of those times did I have my DSLR with me.

Croatia Flag Fan Faces from the #WorldCup, Rio de Janeiro

Ecuador

Apparently this guy is representing the entire country of Ecuador in Rio. Well done, sir.

Brazil World Cup Rio de Janeiro Ecuador13 Fan Faces from the #WorldCup, Rio de Janeiro

England

Well, the World Cup hasn’t quite gone as the English would have hoped. I wonder if this guy will get a tattoo of a dagger through his heart to commemorate the early ousting.

Brazil World Cup Rio de Janeiro England20 Fan Faces from the #WorldCup, Rio de Janeiro

France

I found these French fans in a sea of red during their game against Switzerland. Considering the thumping France gave the Swiss, it’s no wonder they’re smiling.

Brazil World Cup Rio de Janeiro France0 Fan Faces from the #WorldCup, Rio de Janeiro

Germany

What’s better than one man in lederhosen? SIX men in lederhosen! Prost, Deutschland!

Brazil World Cup Rio de Janeiro Germany15 Fan Faces from the #WorldCup, Rio de Janeiro

Ghana

I figured Ghana would be one of the more difficult countries to find, and I was right. Luckily, this guy appeared out of nowhere on Ipanema on the afternoon before the USA played Ghana. After I snapped the photo, he told me that Ghana would again defeat America. Not so fast guy from Ghana…

Brazil World Cup Rio de Janeiro Ghanna1 Fan Faces from the #WorldCup, Rio de Janeiro

Greece

If the Greek fans look anything like their national team then I’m REALLY missing out. I’ve not given up on my search, that’s for sure.

As the sun was dipping below the horizon, Greece appeared at the Arpoador. He’d just arrived in Rio that day, and I was lucky enough to spot him.

Brazil World Cup Rio de Janeiro Greece1 Fan Faces from the #WorldCup, Rio de Janeiro

Honduras

I’d be more likely to find Honduras on a map with my eyes closed than another one of their fans in Rio.

Brazil World Cup Rio de Janeiro Honduras2 Fan Faces from the #WorldCup, Rio de Janeiro

Iran

Iran is another country that I thought would be difficult to spot. Turns out, this couple was one of my very first photos.

Brazil World Cup Rio de Janeiro Iran24 Fan Faces from the #WorldCup, Rio de Janeiro

Italy

Mamma mia! Finding a good carbanara in Rio is a hell of a lot easier than finding an actual Italian. This literally is the only fan I’ve seen. Has their 2006 World Cup championship memory faded so quickly? Where are you, Italy?!?

Brazil World Cup Rio de Janeiro Italy25 Fan Faces from the #WorldCup, Rio de Janeiro

Ivory Coast

I knew that finding an Ivory Coast fan would be a challenge. Not only is it a small country, but the team doesn’t play in Rio at all. Alas, I’ll keep looking.

 Fan Faces from the #WorldCup, Rio de Janeiro

Japan

These guys from Japan are among my favorite fans that I’ve encountered. Look at them! What great senses of humor, which I predict will come in handy after Japan is eliminated from the tournament.

Brazil World Cup Rio de Janeiro Japan10 Fan Faces from the #WorldCup, Rio de Janeiro

Mexico

The fans from Mexico have been many, and I’d have to give them the award for most creative. From their sombreros to the mariachi costumes to their good-natured ribbing of opponents, Mexico is one of the teams I’m rooting for not named USA. I want to see what Mexico’s fans will do for the elimination rounds. I predict people wearing golden eagle costumes with rubber snakes in their mouths.

Brazil World Cup Rio de Janeiro Mexico23 Fan Faces from the #WorldCup, Rio de Janeiro

Brazil World Cup Rio de Janeiro Mexico2 Fan Faces from the #WorldCup, Rio de Janeiro
Netherlands

What can I say about this Dutch group of guys? They were beyond drunk and possibly the most happy people on Copacabana. I just wish I’d gotten a photo of their orange clogs.

Brazil World Cup Rio de Janeiro Holland9 Fan Faces from the #WorldCup, Rio de Janeiro

Nigeria

Nigeria, where are you?

 Fan Faces from the #WorldCup, Rio de Janeiro

Portugal

Meet João and Sara of Spirits Trek. This Portuguese couple have been traveling, working, and volunteering around the Caribbean, Central America, and South America for several years. They’ve made their way to Brazil for the World Cup, as well as to visit family. I was fortunate to spend a few days with this brilliant couple and look forward to seeing them again soon. And in no way am I holding Portugal’s tying, last second goal against João and Sara. They can’t help where they were born. icon wink Fan Faces from the #WorldCup, Rio de Janeiro

Brazil World Cup Rio de Janeiro Portugal0 Fan Faces from the #WorldCup, Rio de Janeiro

Russia

Perhaps the most surprising of all my missing countries is Russia. Normally I can’t travel anywhere without running into a Russian. I suppose Rio is the exception.

Finally, I found Russia! I jumped up from my beachfront table and chased these guys down Copacabana. They were very happy to have me take their photo. Can’t you tell?!?

Brazil World Cup Rio de Janeiro Russia1 Fan Faces from the #WorldCup, Rio de Janeiro

Spain

These Spanish fans were grinning ear to ear prior to their game against Chile. Hours later, however, they were crying in their beers. Spain’s hopes of winning back-to-back World Cup championships were crushed like mazuela grapes.

Brazil World Cup Rio de Janeiro Spain0 Fan Faces from the #WorldCup, Rio de Janeiro

South Korea

In 2002, South Korea co-hosted the World Cup with Japan. That year the country also finished in fourth place. Perhaps they are still celebrating that showing at home, because I’ve not seen one hint of a South Korean anywhere in Rio.

South Korea Flag Fan Faces from the #WorldCup, Rio de Janeiro

Switzerland

I had my choice of Swiss fans, as the country’s tourism board has taken over a bar at Lagoa near my house. The tropical-style outdoor bar has been transformed to a mountain chalet, complete with sheepskin rugs, skis, and a massive TV screen for watching World Cup matches. I was a bit nervous about asking any of the Swiss fans for a photo considering France was whipping them, but this guy had a friendly face.

Brazil World Cup Rio de Janeiro Switzerland3 Fan Faces from the #WorldCup, Rio de Janeiro

United States

I’ve heard many Americans on the street and in restaurants, but finding fans wearing the stars and stripes has been another story. Finally, the team’s first game rolled around, and I spotted a guy in a red, white, and blue body suit. He definitely takes national pride to another level.

And what can be said about the trio of proud Americans? I caught them doing pullups on the exercise equipment on Ipanema. Guys, I salute you!

Brazil World Cup Rio de Janeiro Spain0 1 Fan Faces from the #WorldCup, Rio de Janeiro

Brazil World Cup Rio de Janeiro USA31 Fan Faces from the #WorldCup, Rio de Janeiro

Brazil World Cup Rio de Janeiro USA42 Fan Faces from the #WorldCup, Rio de Janeiro

Uruguay

Tiny Uruguay has won two World Cup titles, which include the first tournament in 1930 and 1950, when they beat host country, Brazil. Perhaps Brazil is still bitter about that loss and have banned Uruguayans from entering the country. You never know with this futbol-mad nation.

Uruguay Flag Fan Faces from the #WorldCup, Rio de Janeiro

 

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