Football is the most popular sport in Brazil and it was legend footballer Pelé, arguably the greatest footballer ever, who first talked about football as The Beautiful Game.
Some may claim that it was Charles Miller, the son of an expatriate Scottish railway engineer, who first introduced football to Brazil, but according to the latest research by the curator of the Scottish Football Museum at Hampden, it was in fact Thomas Donohue, a working-class technician, from the south side of Glasgow, who gave Brazil the chance to develop the beautiful game.
Brazilians rapidly took to the sport and they turned football into an art form, the beautiful game. Gilberto Freyre, an anthropologist and historian, thought that Brazilians played football as “if it was a dance”. And, as Christopher Pillitz’s photography shows, football is the preferred dance for millions, even in the land of samba.
Having photographed football in Brazil for two decades, no one understands the country’s passion for the sport better than Christopher Pillitz. From Brazil’s sun-kissed beaches to its densely populated favelas, Pillitz reveals the sport as Brazil’s religion and unifying cultural force.
His bold and brightly coloured photographs show players of every age and walk of life. They take readers from enormous stadiums and prison yards to the tops of tall buildings and a deep-sea oil platform; across countless streets, alleys, and highways; even inside a local seminary where long robed monks display incredible agility playing in their cassocks.
While he captures stylish kicks, athletic headers, swaying dribbles and passes, and the samba and capoeira behind the incredible moves, Pillitz also shows us the wild excitement of the colourful, eccentric fans. This absorbing and thrilling collection is a treasure trove for new and seasoned fans and portrays brilliantly what football truly represents to the country’s people and its culture.
About the author
Christopher Pillitz, born in Argentina, is a London-based photographer who has travelled extensively in Brazil and knows the country like his backyard. His work has been featured in major publications around the world, including The Sunday Times and The Observer; The New York Times, TIME and Newsweek and Der Spiegel, Stern and GEO.