June 27, 2014 / 3:30 PM / 5 years ago

The good, the bad, and the ugly – diary of a World Cup photographer

Dylan Martinez, chief photographer for the United Kingdom and Ireland, is in Brazil to cover the World Cup. He’ll be keeping a diary of the highs and lows here.  

Dylan Martinez

Sunday July 13

A sunny and very pleasant Rio de Janeiro

So how many nights, matches, sidelines, meals, pictures, headaches, national anthems, football chants, hotels, flights, taxis, new faces, friends, annoying people, breakfasts, uncomfortable beds, beards, repeats of useless sitcoms, stolen cameras, hotel laundries, bags, beers and dodgy rooms have we had now?

Answer: too many.

Well, after all that, there was this game of football. And Germany winning 1-0 was not my preferred score. Just saying. 

But, in the end, there is only one thing you have to do as a photographer at a World Cup Final and that is not screw it up. That’s it. Just don’t miss it or muzz it.

Relief, pure, utter and unadulterated relief, pretty much sums up how I felt when I saw these pictures.

Thank you Mario for those.

These were sort of ok too.

The evening ended up at a very nice seafood restaurant and in a show of genuine class our German “Weltmeister” colleagues picked up the tab.

Thank you Kai and Mike for that. 

Thanks too to my editor Hannah Vinter, who posted this blog every day, and somehow kept me employed by editing out some of my crazier musings.

And a much bigger thanks to everyone who actually followed it (both of you)….

Now, here’s to Italy, holidays, and a little while without any football. Next match August 10.

Saturday July 12

A rainy, sunny and slightly chilly Rio de Janeiro

So these are the pictures I mentioned earlier. 

Below are the Reuters photographers who will be inside the Maracana Stadium covering the 2014 World Cup Final between Germany and Argentina on Sunday. 

This is maybe not a surprise but it was kind of easy to get twelve photographers together with the promise of having their picture taken at the studio of famous Brazilian fashion photographer and former model Nana Moraes (yes, part of the infamous Moraes clan). 

Top Row (L-R): Fabrizio “always on top” Bensch, Sergio “where’s the restaurant” Moraes, Ricardo “don’t mention the football” Moraes, and Dylan “have you seen my blog” Martinez.

Middle Row (L-R): Paulo “I live by a lake” Whitaker, David “always miles away” Gray, Leonhard “this is me excited” Foeger, and Damir “somnambulist” Sagojl.

Bottom Row (L-R): Kai “there’s only one” Pfaffenbach, Darren “this is me happy” Staples, Eddie “nice cameras” Keogh and Michael “the machine” Dalder.

I cannot help but wonder what Pope Francis would make of these 12.

Unfortunately there are no pictures of our editors: Reinhard “the boss” Krause, Russell “the cropper” Boyce, Wolfgang “the professor” Rattay, Thomas “one roll of film”  Szlukovenyi and Mal “one best” Langsdon… But let’s just say they are more Traveling Wilburys to our Happy Mondays.

A big hello to all the unmentionable, unspellable and unpronounceable photographers who have all made it home already. And of course the processors and technicians who make it all happen. 

In other news, I lost the coin toss and got to cover Argentina and Germany news conferences, which was lucky.

Oh yeah, and Brazil lost to the Dutch big time.

Tomorrow the 2014 World Cup Final.

Friday July 11

A rainy and sunny Rio de Janeiro

Slept. Ate. Took a few pictures. Posed (more on that later). Ate. Slept.

Here’s the view from my bed at 0600 this morning.

I want this fan.

Here’s a comfortable bed.

Thursday July 10

A rainy Sao Paulo and then a very wet Rio de Janeiro

I took my last internal flight today. I’m not enough of a wordsmith to truly express how pleasurable it is to say that.

The next plane I get will take me home, although (unfortunately) I have to get another flight before being reunited with my family, who are already enjoying the Umbrian summer.

Chianti, cinghiale, cacio e pepe, pizza romana, Greco di Tufo, porcini, and fresh ciliegie are all just days away.

But before then, there is just one more match, a match that is the whole entire point of the past few weeks. Argentina and Germany will face off in yet another World Cup Final.

This is their third such encounter – it’s one each so far. And if I’m not mistaken it is Argentina’s turn to win this time…

Now I have three days to pretend to be healthy again and lose all the weight that I have managed to find here.

I was going to go on a tour of the city, but Bobby the dog seems intent on keeping us here at the Casa Beleza. So guess I’ll spend all day in bed then.

Wednesday July 9

A cloudy and then a very rainy Sao Paulo

I am sure a lot of things happened around the world today, good and bad, big and small. But really only one thing mattered. And there was something kind of cool about being there to witness it in person. In fact, it was really very cool.

I have no idea what the total TV figures were, but it’s certain that people all over the globe tuned in to see Argentina make it into the World Cup Final at the expense of the Dutch.

The referee blew his whistle and it was as though the heavens opened on us. Rain, rain and more rain. So we could pontificate (pun intended) for hours about the game and what happened and who was booked and who should have scored and who did this and who did that and the blah blah blah, but as ever it’s just not important. The best team won.

It has taken a while but I was kind of lucky today…

Special mention to one of the unpronounceables, Dominic “check out my guns” Ebenbichler for this cracker.

Tomorrow, Rio. And we really are on the home straight now.

Tuesday July 8

A cloudy and rainy Sao Paulo

It seems a little late in the day to get serious, but all this talk of dirty sheets, single beds, horrible airline food, Two and a Half Men, disappointing breakfasts, Dowtown Abbey, suicidal taxi drivers, turbulence, loud aircon, intolerable passengers, expanded bellies (ok that is serious), uncomfortable beards, the odd stolen camera, delayed flights, and bad views of football screens etc didn’t seem so important today…

The view en route from our hotel to the stadium where Argentina was training put it all into some kind of perspective.

Now it really isn’t as though I haven’t travelled the world and witnessed abject poverty and squalor. But right here, next to a football stadium that cost hundreds of millions of dollars, it seemed kind of incongruous…

Passing shanty after shanty, and seeing families who had made their homes under a bridge, made me feel a bit like a whiney, annoying Ned Ryerson, BING …. (Another Groundhog Day reference, you either know it or you don’t.)


Now back to the World Cup. Brazil got seriously spanked 7-1 by Germany.

My mother, who is from Argentina, called all panicked saying “how can we beat this Robocop team?” (assuming, of course Argentina defeat The Dutch).

“Faith, Messi and some luck is all we need”, I said with fingers, legs, toes, and heart crossed.

Talking of putting things in perspective, I grant you that the Germans were pretty good, but my 14-year-old daughter’s water polo team could have defended better than the hapless Brazilians. 

Still, I like David “Sideshow Bob” Luiz, and here Eddie “Nice Cameras” Keogh captures him beautifully


It is true pictures can speak a thousand words, but sometimes numbers say it even better.

This shot is by the talented but somewhat somnambulist Damir “did you know Zlatan Ibrahimovic was actually Bosnian and better than Maradona” Sagolj.


And just because life is sometimes better than fiction, David “let me tell you about soccerroos” Gray amusingly captured this moment.

Tomorrow Argentina v. Netherlands. Remember you only have to win by one goal.

Monday July 7

A cloudy but warm Sao Paulo

Turns out I was a bit premature in saying that I would get my camera fixed today.

It seems the whole country is grinding to a halt tomorrow when Brazil and Germany go head-to-head in the first semi-final, and no one is too sure as to when it will crank up again.

So no chance of getting anything done before I go back to Blighty. Oh well, who needs cameras, right?

I was going to bang on about how having two single beds sucks. And really, why would a hotel have them? Who would ever want two singles, when a double bed is so much nicer? Do they think it’s a spare bed just in case you lose one?

But I will take my two single beds here in Sao Paulo over what our luckless colleagues in Belo Horizonte had to book into.

I just don’t have a thesaurus big enough to describe the woeful place they stayed in. As luck would have it, a guardian angel saved them from purgatory and they have now moved….

Here’s the loo… Eeek.

This is the bedspread… Nasty.



And this is their view. Gotta love that attempt at a roof garden…



Now let me get back to Downton Abbey. This whole Lady Edith saga is quite something. 

Tomorrow, while the entire country is at a standstill, Michael “the Machine” Dalder and I will be taking pictures of Argentina training.

Sunday July 6

A pleasant Brasilia to a warm Sao Paulo

I’m back to Phil Connors from Groundhog Day territory. But this time it’s a return to insane taxi drivers, airports, luggage, and turbulence.

The flight was a tad rough and I had a genuine fear that the guy in the middle seat was going to show me his breakfast. Lucky escape.

Not everyone has been so fortunate. In bad news, photography kit continues to be stolen at an alarming rate. Hire car depots seem to be a favourite haunt for thieves, there are even stories of taxi drivers who speed off with your bags as you get out to pay. The old “mustard trick” has reared its ugly head as has the flat tyre scam. There are scumbags aplenty, unfortunately.

I got good news from back home though, where school is out for the summer. Remember that feeling of an entire summer off? It takes some beating.

These hats could become all the rage this summer, with just a couple matches to go.



And I know it’s not exactly football, but you’ve got to love these crackers by Swiss heartthrob Stefan “no one’ Wermuth and our Minnesota Marvel Suzanne “check out my cowboy boots” Plunkett, of Djokovic on Centre Court from the final day of Wimbledon.

It has not been easy to keep tabs on it this summer, but for three out of every four years Wimbledon is the best two weeks going.



Apart from the World Cup I haven’t watched any actual TV since arriving in Brazil, so after catching the final three games of Djokovic’s five set win over Federer, I channel hopped and the only undubbed thing I could find was an episode of Downton Abbey. This has to be some kind of joke. I travel almost 6,000 miles and this is all there is on offer. 

Here is a character who is actually called Master Bates. Really.


Tomorrow I finally get to fix that busted camera I have been carting around since Natal.

Saturday July 5

Yes, another lovely day in Brasilia 

My farmer’s tan is coming along a treat, as is my belly.

But today was all about Argentina sending Belgium crashing out of the World Cup. Maybe not the most exciting game of football I have ever seen, but as they say, you only have to win by one goal.

And what a beauty it was. Gonzalo Higuain, with one perfect touch, laced the ball into the bottom, right-hand corner of Thibaut Courtois’ net.


And for once it actually happened in front of me and in nice light. Thank you very much, Gonzalo.

As for this next picture, well, it would have been churlish of me not to take it. Honestly, it’s been quite a while since anyone has waved a banner in my honor.

This bloke in the centre is the Belgian prime minister.


And you kind of have to feel for the guys in Salvador who photographed 120 minutes of an exciting match as Holland battled it out with Costa Rica before finding themselves at minute zero again at the penalties. Format cards, start again, pretend the last two hours didn’t happen.

It ALL came down to the spot kicks and the giant Tim “Howay” Krul, who plays for Newcastle, actually almost speaks Geordie and can save a penalty.

He got inside the Costa Rican heads and seemed to own the goal. It was never in any doubt once he touched the crossbar while practically still sitting on his knees.

Here Marcos “Don Quixote Vom Juan” Brindicci captures the save nicely.


And lastly, this one pretty much sums up the match by the Guv’nor Ruben “first class or no class” Sprich.


Tomorrow, Sao Paulo.

Friday July 4

Guess what? Another warm and lovely day in Brasilia

Ever get the feeling there’s a party going on somewhere else and you are not invited?

Pretty much the entire country was thinking about, preparing for and then eventually watching Brazil squeeze past Colombia to make it to the semifinals.

But our team of unpronounceable photographers Damir Sagolj, Dominic Ebenbichler, Ueslei Marcelino and David Gray (you just have to say that with an Aussie accent, it’s the law) covered Argentina and Belgium’s news conferences and training. It was, well, average at best. 

This is what they call an “in your face” picture, just in case you were not 100 percent sure what it was supposed to show.

We got to our favourite restaurant, Bar Brasilia, and luckily we were just in time, as the roads were almost completely deserted.

This is a major thoroughfare in downtown Brasilia at 5 o’clock on Friday afternoon…


And what a cracker the game was. What did I say about David “Sideshow Bob” Luiz being a dude?

Well he is.

Check out these belters.

This one by a former freelancer for me (couldn’t resist that one) and now Reuters Chief Photographer for Italy, fashion guru Stefano Rellandini.


And this one by Seville’s answer to Antonio Banderas, the exceptionally talented Marcelo del Pozo.


These pictures by Italian/German Stallion Fabrizio Bensch, and Austrian Leonhard Foeger of the unfortunate Neymar are simply heartbreaking:



Oh and in other news Germany defeated France 1-0.

Tomorrow Argentina v. Belgium, should be a humdinger.

Thursday July 3

Another warm and lovely day in Brasilia (seriously)

I’m starting to feel like Phil Connors in that old classic Groundhog Day.

I look out of the hotel window and weirdly there is never anyone on any of the balconies, but the same man is always sweeping the road and what looks like the same couple always seems to stroll by. And no matter what time I go to bed, I always wake up at six.

Pretty much the only differences are that I don’t need booties and there is definitely no Sonny and Cher on my iTunes.



Since I did all that swimming with Argentina’s answer to Daniel Craig, photographer Carlos Barria, I have done no exercise. And that time in Natal seems like a lifetime ago.

Luckily for me, top photographer Dominic Ebenbichler, a former Austrian national swimmer and probably an ex-swimwear model too, was on hand to give me some tips.

I’m starting to get the feeling it’s almost as if there were some policy to hire people with weird, wonderful, unpronounceable and unspellable names.

Water is always nice, the only problem was the pool. This was the best we could find – nearly three meters at its longest points. I lost count when I reached 372 lengths, and then gave up.


In World Cup news, Argentine and Belgian fans are descending on our hotel in great numbers. I cannot believe how many are asking for tickets, it seems a long way to come to watch it on TV…

I am getting nervous, inexplicably, so really cannot imagine how the players are feeling. 

Tomorrow I get my first chance to see the Maestro Messi train and also some of Tottenham Hotspurs B team (only kidding).

Wednesday July 2

Another warm and lovely day in Brasilia

I said a final goodbye to my photography partner, the famous Mr Silva, as he flew off to Belo Horizonte. Jorge now has other fish to fry as he makes last-minute preparations for his solo exhibition at the Perpignan photography festival. Sweet.

As the World Cup draws to an end, the pictures team is starting to thin out and we have been saying farewell to friends and colleagues for a few days now. It’s nice to know, though, that we will meet again somewhere.

As for other news, I had a slight panic today as I finally had a chance to do some laundry. Either the hotel has shrunk every piece of clothing I own or I have managed to put on a few extra kilos. I’ve decided to live in one of the best districts I know, “Denial,” and have concluded that it HAS to be the hotel.

Apart from finishing off a John Le Carre book, and chatting to that talking cat I dreamed about the other night, my biggest achievements today were breakfast, lunch and supper.

Here is a picture proving an old adage that you can take everything including (three) kitchen sinks.

And I spotted this inside a sports club that I thought about going into, and then didn’t quite make it. Just love all these old dudes.

And here’s one from a couple of days ago by Brasilia’s only beach bum, the gifted but totally unpronounceable Ueslei Marcelino. Seriously, how do you say that?


Tomorrow, let’s see…. 

Tuesday July 1

A warm and pleasant Brasilia

Today was my first day off since arriving in Brazil and I now get to stay in one place for almost a week. Total joy.

No suicidal taxi drivers, no airports, no travelling, no cars, no carrying luggage, no delayed flights, no airplane air, no uncomfortable chairs, no bad coffee, no popped ears, no security checks, no more repeats of Two and a Half Men, no nothing.

Instead I can just sleep and watch the World Cup in a bar like the rest of humanity. Just as well really, as I was starting to lose that famous good humour of mine.

It’s never a good sign when pushy passengers and conveyer belt shenanigans start to annoy you. Time to take five and let it all wash over me 

Today only one thing happened that means anything. Argentina defeated Switzerland in a nail-biting cracker.

As we all know, Pope Francis, a huge football fan, is Argentine and I cannot help but wonder if it was fortuitous that the match was indeed decided by an Angel (honestly).

The wonderful Lionel Messi skipped over a desperate, lunging Swiss leg, drew two defenders and then played a perfect pass for number 7, Angel (I told you) Di Maria, to slot the ball into the back of the net and break Swiss hearts.  

But as top Swiss photographer and pin-up idol Stefan “No one” Wermuth ominously said: “Will the Swiss Guards continue to protect the Pope?”

Could be an interesting breakfast at the Vatican tomorrow.

This picture taken by Chilean lens maestro Ivan “The Amazing” Alvarado is beyond perfect.

Here is a picture of me sneaked by David “Miles Away” Gray, at the Bar Brasilia.


I was watching this moment captured wonderfully by Eddie “The King” Keogh as the post came to Argentina’s rescue.

And this is a picture by the infamous Kai “Pfaffi” Pfaffenbach, well, just to help prove a point.

Tomorrow I’ve not got much to do. Nice.

Monday June 30

A very hot Brasilia

My farmer’s tan is coming along a treat after another few hours spent in the sun. All that vitamin D.

But what is it they say about every positive having a negative, yin and yang, good and bad, what goes up must come down, etc..?

Well, as much as I loved the Brazil v. Chile game, I was not so enamoured with France’s pretty unimpressive win over Nigeria.

I was on France’s attacking end in the first half and was sure I was going to be in the lucky corner, but no. The first half was all Nigeria in the opposite end and then the second half was all France, again, and obviously, in the opposite goal.

Very disappointing. On the plus side it was easy for my editor, Wolfgang Rattay, as he didn’t have much to do.

This really is about as good as it got, a back view of Nigeria scoring an own goal in the last minutes. Umm…

And this one of France’s Paul Pogba pretty much sums up my day. A back view of not very much.

This picture by David “Miles Away” Gray made me smile; it shows some poor photographer trying to find a good signal.


Not all was bad as I did catch up with Jorge Silva again and although he was still a little (very) bitter about Holland’s last-minute victory over Mexico, he at least had some free time to do a very groovy series of pictures of some of the weird buildings designed by architect Oscar Niemeyer.

They are worth checking out. Here is just one.


Tomorrow I have nothing to do. Nada. Zilch. Zero. Nista. Nichts. Rien. Niente. Lutho. Khong.

Except, that is, try to find a place to watch Argentina demolish Switzerland.

Sunday June 29

A hot Belo Horizonte, a long time in a boring airport, to a pleasant evening in Brasilia.

There is something of “the morning after the night before” following a big match like Brazil v. Chile yesterday.

The heatstroke, the adrenaline comedown and the late-night meal and beer probably don’t help much either.

Today was another day spent at yet another airport, where I got a pretty average view of the Netherlands kicking Mexico out of the World Cup.

On the plus side, I managed to chat to my wife who had just walked five minutes from our home to Clapham Common to see the “fab”, one-and-only Stevie Wonder perform live at a local festival.

She said she even enjoyed Aerosmith, with all their leather and hair, who had played there the day before. I felt very jealous (of her seeing Stevie Wonder, not Steve Tyler). It just goes to show that you don’t always have to travel halfway around the globe to see something great – sometimes it is right there on your doorstep.

Here, there is no rest for the wicked as our photo editors have somehow managed not to go goggle-eyed as they continue to edit match after match after match… 

For us here on the ground, after the Brazil game yesterday we all went out for a meal. But the editors just went straight on to looking at images come streaming in from Colombia v. Uruguay.

In other news, I need more stuff. I don’t have enough cameras, cables, wires, unfashionable hats, bags, pedals, laptops or water…

One of the best cakes ever. Thanks to TV producer Angie who organized this delicious chocolate cake for cameraman and proud Uruguayan, Sebastian.

What telephone boxes were actually designed for… watching football. This time we saw Holland and Mexico.

And here is the great man less than 5-minutes walk from my house. Picture by Alice Dunhill (my wife).

Tomorrow we have France v. Nigeria.

Saturday June 28

A sweltering Belo Horizonte

I was right about the bed, Goodness. Best night’s sleep for a while. Although I did have a very strange dream about a talking cat, gonna blame Philip Pullman for that one. Unfortunately we were up early as we had to get to the Brazil v Chile match ahead of the thousands of fans who took to the streets to watch the home nation squeeze past Chile and make it into the quarter finals.

My whole body is practically on fire after sitting in direct sunlight for almost six hours. Over 30 degrees all day. It should be mad dogs, Englishmen and insane photographers stay in the mid day sun. A cold shower and some cold beers have helped ease the pain.

As for the game it was wonderful. Absolutely amazing, and a real privilege to be there, sun or no sun. It had it all, goals, disallowed goals, near misses, tears, ecstasy, lucky coins, great saves, the wood work took a real hammering, and of course winners and losers.

Just in case our pix team Spain’s Sergio “the gigolo” Perez, the legendary Toru Hanaisan, Eric “Alain Delon” Gaillard and Austrian catwalk model Leonhard Foeger had worked out a perfect penalty plan that couldn’t possibly go wrong. Yeah right. But somehow it all came together just as if we have actually done this before. I love it when a plan pans out.

Penalties are always a real emotionfest. My rather unstylish hat goes off to Brazil’s answer to Side-Show Bob, David Luiz, he is a real gentlemen – I have noticed it on many occasions and today was not any different. Very dignified.

I like this one, the moment Brazil win.

And here is the Chile captain showing what it means to lose.

And check out this picture by Leo of Chile’s final penalty hitting the post. Very cool.

And just to show the Brazilian team were not the only ones who got lucky today.

Tomorrow back to the cool buildings in Brasilia.

Friday June 27

A hot Brasilia to a very pleasant and warm Belo Horizonte

Mixed emotions today, as I (yes just me) head off to Belo Horizonte to cover Brazil v Chile. Happy as I get to shoot the home nation for the first time, but sad as I feel like a character from a Philip Pullman novel who has just lost his Daemon (always thought it would be cool if mine was a lynx).

Mr Silva and I have separated. Jorge stays in Brasilia with all his new friends in the big hotel.

Whereas I join a whole new team. Ok it’s only for one game but I’m sure I don’t have to spell out the advantages of travelling with an easy-going dude who speaks very good Brazilian, is well over 6ft tall and looks like he knows how to handle himself.

Anyway another flight, thankfully it was too short for them to show that episode of Two and Half Men again, and yet another suicidal taxi driver. But on the plus side this looks like a comfortable bed.

Passengers on the plane, the hotel check-in lady and the old man at the local chemist asked if I was from Chile and in the city to cheer on their foe. I’m half English, half Argentine and was born in Barcelona, not even slightly Chilean.

Airport etiquette out of the window as people get inexplicably very territorial over their space next to the conveyer belt. Never understand that one.

Oh and I enjoyed a very nice meal with our very own league of nations, a Greek, a Philippina, an American, an Austrian, a Frenchmen, a Brit, a German, a Japanese, a Spaniard and a Uruguayan (just don’t mention Suarez).

I’m used to little chocolates on the pillow or fancy soaps in the bathroom, but never been given one of these by a hotel before.

Bring on match number 49 of 64.

Thursday June 26

A very hot Brasilia

Brasilia is crazy. It’s like an artists impression of how you might imagine the future looked in the 1950s. Sort of as if Woody Allen’s Sleeper movie has come to life. I’ve got his glasses. I just need to track down that magic device of his…. Anyway it looks amazing, I love the architecture, wide boulevards and twee little trees everywhere. Very groovy. Our hotel must have been super trendy in the 1970s, the only thing missing is the staff don’t wear jump suits. It’s built for some Donna Summer soundtrack.

As for the match. Well Portugal beat Ghana but so what? Kind of a waste of time really since both USA and Germany (from the same group) progressed to the next stage. Painful. Honestly, it was actually painful. I sat in direct sunlight for two hours. Still the light was nice, and we got the opportunity yet again to photograph a disconsolate looking Ronaldo. So the World Cup loses another star.

Here is a picture that David “Miles Away” Gray said was his favourite of the day

And here is Ronaldo looking glum

And here’s that nice light I was talking about

And this one by the infamous Kai Pfaffenbach, is well just very funny

Tomorrow off to Bello Horizonte for Brazil I think.

Wednesday June 25

A hot Cuiaba to a warm Brasilia

Slight panic at check-in this morning when the nice airline lady looked me up and down, smiled and said if I wasn’t careful she would have to charge me extra for the bags under my eyes. Must sleep tonight.

More air miles and another chance to see this particular airlines’ favourite episode of “Two and Half Men” – which I am assured is a comedy.

For once, everything went like clockwork but we still missed Argentina showing Nigeria what happens if you give them – and in particular, Messi – space.

I’ve been looking forward to Brasilia. I love being surrounded by weird and wonderful architecture.

But I’m going to take this opportunity on a quiet day to pretend I’m calling a radio station and give a big shout-out to our photo editors in Miami.

So far Bonn’s Banana Boy, Wolfgang Rattay, former international Olympic basketball star, the practically unspellable Tom Szlukovenyi and Woodstock legend Rickey “The Hippy” Rogers have all had the dubious honour of editing my pictures.

Their job is to make me look like I’m Robert De Niro in Taxi Driver and not Robert De Niro in the Little Fockers.

Now I’m just waiting until Russell “let me just crop that a bit more” Baxter Boyce, the practically unpronounceable Pawel “Ten Brains” Kopczynski and our supreme leader, best just call him Reinhard Krause get the opportunity to pick my best ones.

Oh, and while I’m at it, let me say a big hello to everyone else who knows me.

Here’s are a couple of great pix from today

This beauty taken by The Big Lebowski’s little brother Marco Djurica.

And this one by Milan fashionista Stefano Rellandini.

And last but not least, one by our very own head-banger Sergio Moraes

And here is a cute one from yesterday, well just because…..

Tomorrow Portugal v Ghana.

Tuesday June 24

A very hot but pleasant Cuiaba

I didn’t get much sleep last night after finding myself with the choice between trying to kip in a sweltering room or else listening to an AC unit that made about as much noise as an ACDC sound check.

But the morning was beautiful. Clear, blue sky and a light breeze.

In fact the whole day was wonderful, a few degrees below 30 Celsius (86 F), even though, as our taxi driver reminded us, it’s winter here. He then added that they only have two seasons in Cuiaba: “winter and hell.”

I learned a couple things today. First, when Reuters LA editor Mary Milliken speaks, you should listen. And second, I basically don’t need to bother switching on my cameras until the 90th minute of a game.

Mary explained at breakfast that there was this really old Colombian dude, Faryd Mondragon, aged 43, (I remember that year fondly), and if he came on the pitch he would make World Cup history by being the oldest footballer ever to play in the finals.

I was covering Colombia v. Japan, and even though there were plenty of goals, everything seemed to happen elsewhere. Until right at the end, that is, when Mondragon came on as goalie.

It was, as they say, “emotional”. You know when you know something is going to happen? Well I knew that in the final minutes Colombia would score and he would go mental – and for once I was on the button.

So I stopped looking at the game and just waited for him to show us what it is like to be 43 years old and on a winning team. What a dude.

A good game. Japan lost 4-1, giving Colombia their third win on the trot. And Jackson Martinez (who else?) was man of the match.

Here’s a shot of him by Eric Gaillard.

And a shot of Colombia’s Juan Cuadrado by Jorge Silva.

Unfortunately for us, an incident involving a certain Uruguayan player kind of stole our thunder.

Tomorrow we go to Brasilia for Portugal v Ghana. Am looking forward to that one.

Monday June 23

A hot Manaus to a hot and pleasant Cuiaba, via some airport or other.

A big plus on this pretty insane tour is that we get to meet up with old friends and make new ones as we travel from place to place.

A big minus, waistline-wise, is that everybody seems to be waiting for us to have their big night out…

Jorge Silva and I feel kind of like your favorite uncle, who you haven’t seen for a few years, and who turns up out of the blue and buys you a great meal.

Ok, so we might not be everyone’s favorite and we won’t buy you supper, but so far wherever we go, our fellow photographers, technicians, text reporters and TV crew have always been very happy to see us. We’re brand new and – best of all – no one has heard any of my old jokes yet.

Last night, after the USA v. Portugal game, we got to share a meal with our Manaus crew, South African photographer Siphiwe Sibeko and Andres Stapff, a Uruguayan who shares Suarez’s killer instinct but luckily for him not his looks (just saying).

Tonight we hooked up with Gaza photographer Suhaib Salem and Nice’s answer to French actor Alain Delon, Eric Gaillard.

Also we got to fly over the Amazon in daylight: we saw an awful lot of trees, a spooky amount of deforestation and a big brown river.

In the end, the journey only lasted eight hours today, but we still managed to miss all the football.

The pilot kept us informed of Brazil’s fortunes as they played their match against Cameroon, which they ended up winning 4-1. I wonder if he would have done so if they were losing?

Sunday June 22

A very, very hot and humid Manaus

Ahhhh, finally a decent hotel. Joy.

I have a comfortable bed and sheets at last. Believe it or not, we got none in our Salvador hotel. Although why they put the air conditioner up to max, so the room was (no kidding) 10 degrees Celsius, is beyond me.

Still, my main news today is that the beard is gone. Why would anyone have a beard? It continually itched, I spent all day fiddling with it, it added about 15 years and at least 10 kilos to my looks, not to mention the fact that I am sure it was to blame for extra body-checks whenever I went through security.

Football-wise, after 94 minutes and some seconds of covering USA v. Portugal, I was starting to think that this was a long way to come to sit at the wrong end of the pitch for three goals and to capture no celebration.

But it ain’t over until the fat lady – or in this instance Ronaldo – sings. USA were seconds away from a great win over Portugal, but it was not to be. Ronaldo made a cross, and Slivestre Varela headed the ball into the goal.

Some pictures are not great pictures – they are just pictures that are great NOT to miss. I cannot tell you the relief I felt when I saw I had this last-minute goal.

Still, to me, this one kind of sums up Ronaldo’s World Cup so far.

But picture of the game goes to Siphiwe Sibeko.

Tomorrow we head to Cuiaba via somewhere for Colombia v. Japan.

Saturday June 21

Overcast Salvador, via a grim Rio airport, to a very hot and humid Manaus

A good game, a good meal, a good bottle of Argentine red and a very good night’s sleep meant I felt like a millions dollars when I woke up.

Unfortunately feeling and looking don’t always go hand-in-hand. A quick glance in the mirror and I thought a badger had died on my face. This beard will have to go. I now know why I haven’t grown one since ‘97 – I was in Kabul when the Taliban first took the city and outlawed shaving. Not a good look for me then and even worse now.

We left our Salvador hotel at midday and didn’t arrive at our Manaus hotel until well after 1.a.m. To put that into some kind of perspective, I could have flown from London to Jo’burg and been eating a steak and drinking Shiraz at the famous Bull Ring restaurant in that time.

It was a day of unpleasant airport food and attempting to catch glimpses of some football.

At Salvador we watched a pretty unimpressive Argentina take on Iran, and I had to bite my tongue as almost the entire airport cheered Iran on. I did smile though when I overheard a Brazilian boy ask his father: “who do we support?” “The red ones, son…”

Here’s our great view of Argentina v. Iran (in RED).

Here’s our view at Rio airport as we caught the tail end of Germany’s lucky 2-2 draw with Ghana. Everyone was cheering for Ghana – we all love an underdog.

Here’s our view of the first half of Bosnia v. Nigeria. Sorry to Damir, my Bosnian colleague.

Tomorrow I have to buy a hammock and then shoot Portugal v. USA. Should be a goodie.

Friday June 20

A wet then very humid and hot Salvador

Where to start?

I could start with my fellow photographer Jorge “the goal and celebration magnet” Silva, and tell you what it is like to know that wherever I sit it doesn’t matter, because everything happens in front of his camera, and he captures every moment beautifully.

Or maybe I could start with the advice that our photography colleague Marcos Brindicci learned the hard way: avoid a certain pizza unless you want to get severe food poisoning and vomit during a World Cup match.

There are lots of ways to describe what happened to Marcos: barf, pray to the great ceramic idol, yodel groceries, do the multicolour yawn, spew, yak, upchuck, hurl etc… And it happened all as French superstar and man of the moment Karim Benzema scored a goal and then ran towards him.

Or I could start with another piece of wisdom: “watch your gear as some scum bag cannot wait to nick your stuff”.

In short, we learned lots of things today. Jorge should have the surname Golden not Silva. Marcos Brindicci has now been rechristened Don Vom Juan. And anyone who has seen a Jean Claude Van Damme movie should know not to mess with the Muscles from Brussels, or his lookalike, my colleague Eddie Keogh.

On a serious note, people are stealing camera gear with alarming regularity. From hotel rooms, from media buses, from media centres, from the pitch, and most disarmingly from right under your nose – some even at knife point with a smile on their face. So if it happens to you, do what Eddie Keogh does and run.

While Eddie’s back was turned (for a moment) some chancer picked up his bag and sauntered off. But Eddie the Eagle Eye saw that something was awry and chased the culprit.

Long story short, security guards, a FIFA official, Brazilian police and indignity came down on the offender. Unfortunately not everyone has been nearly as lucky as Eddie. Keep your eyes peeled and be quick on your toes if some light fingered so-and-so tries to pinch you stuff.

Oh yes, and teams played sports. France won 5-2 (should have been 6). I said I liked Benzema.

This is maybe my favourite shot by our Italian/German Stallion Fabrizio Bensch

And here are a couple more that kind of work too.

Thursday June 19

A very wet Rio and then on to a muggy Salvador.

The worst and also the best part of being ill with a major temperature is the deep sleep and the bizarre, weirdly vivid dreams that follow.

Last night, maybe not too surprisingly, Martin Sheen and I had a very pleasant supper together. He was surprisingly knowledgeable about the World Cup and pinhole cameras.

He talked about the merits of Germany’s Thomas Muller (who has already scored a hat-trick) not really being an out-and-out striker but playing from the midfield and how tough it was to defend against that. I will have to take his word on that one.

Anyway my day was not nearly as interesting as my night of hallucinations.

It was another long day of traveling and it appears that every time I get on a plane to Salvador, England lose 2-1. First to Italy and then today to Uruguay.

Disappointing, but as Liverpool fans know only too well, Suarez loves to score off a Gerard assist.

Here’s a picture of people not too concerned with watching Ivory Coast v. Colombia at Rio airport.

And what about this one, this man was actually using a public phone. I haven’t seen anyone do that for years.

Tomorrow we shoot Switzerland v. France. Should be a good one – I always enjoy watching Benzema.

Wednesday June 18

A humid Rio

Credit where credit is due. Jorge’s persistent sneezing, coughing and spluttering finally paid off and he has managed to give me his flu. Hopefully this may explain the fact that, while video-chatting with my wife yesterday with an whirring fan overhead, she told me I looked like some crazed Benjamin L. Willard from Apocalypse Now.

It’s not ideal to be photographing a World Cup match between Spain and Chile with a temperature and the shakes, especially when one of your cameras has now officially died. But at least we got the opportunity to work with our very own dead-ringer for Madeleine Stowe, the exceptionally gifted photographer Pilar Olivares. Chile defeated Spain 2-0.

Here’s my favorite picture of the game showing Andres Iniesta all alone, taken by Ricardo Moraes.

Spanish sports daily, La Marca used it across the entire front page with the headline (in English) THE END. Pretty cool.

This one of Spanish captain and goalkeeper Iker Casillas wasn’t too bad either.

And this kick in the head had to hurt.

Next we return to Salvador for Switzerland v. France. Oh and my beard is really coming along.

Tuesday June 17

A humid Salvador and then a surprisingly chilly Rio

Mr Silva and I have been looking forward to today since the whole nightmare of being completely drenched by rain in Natal.

We thought we would soon be at the aptly named “Casa Beleza” or “House of Beauty”, sitting by the pool sipping caipirinhas while we watched Algeria take on Belgium; then we could stroll to the local bar and soak up the atmosphere as Brazil battled it out with Mexico (remember Jorge is Mexican).

Instead we spent the whole day at Salvador airport moving from gate to gate as our flight was continually delayed. Fog they said, which is weird as there was no fog reported in Rio.

We arrived in Rio more than five hours late, at the height of rush hour or, more importantly, exactly as Brazil faced Mexico. We learned an important secret: if you want to do anything in Brazil, just wait until their team is playing football and you’ll find all the roads empty.

A trip which should have taken over an hour was done in less than 15 minutes. We even got to our BnB in time to watch the final 30 minutes of the game, drink two beers and cheer on Mexico.

And here is a picture I forgot to send yesterday showing us driving the wrong way on a motorway. That will turn your hair grey – that’s my excuse anyway (ok the road was supposedly closed but it was still pretty spooky).

Monday June 16

A slightly damp but ultimately pleasant Salvador

One of the best things about these big, set-piece events is getting to work alongside some of the best photographers and reporters in the game.  One of the worst things is a bad diet. The hotel breakfast included undrinkable coffee that looked like tea, and slices of food which, visually, I recognised as cheese and ham, but which, taste-wise, made me not so sure.

I didn’t eat again until the evening when I was so starving that I let beer quench my thirst and hunger.

Picture-wise the jury is still out on whether my new beard is bringing me luck – I was in the right end for three of Germany’s four goals and got kind of lucky with Pepe’s head-butt on Muller.

And I don’t totally hate this one of a downcast Ronaldo.

BUT the light sucked big time and someone needs to teach the German’s how to really celebrate a hat-trick.

I love this one too by Argentina’s answer to Don Juan (or is it Don Quixote?) the inimitable Marcos Brindici.

Oh, and my partner in crime Jorge Silva has come down with the flu, which is no fun for him and will be a real shame for me in a day or two when I get it. Rio tomorrow.

Sunday June 15

A very rainy Salvador and then a sunny Salvador

The best thing ever happened this morning. I found, hidden in my bag, a Father’s Day card from my two super daughters. Words cannot express how much of a lift that gave me.

A good 3G signal also made it possible to video chat with my family for the first time in days. Unfortunately the beard did not go down too well. I promised to get rid of it, unless I get very lucky with the Germany v. Portugal match on Monday.

It rained, we got very wet, then very cold (what is it with people’s obsession with air conditioning, even when it’s freezing?), then the sun came out and it was almost lovely.

Argentina played Bosnia, which was good for me (my family is Argentine) although not so good for Bosnia’s most famous export, and maybe the best photographer I have ever had the pleasure of working with – Reuters’ Damir Sagolj.

Still, football is football, and I don’t care how good you are, I took pleasure in texting Damir throughout the match. In the end we accepted that Bosnia understood the basic concept of scoring goals and that every team should have a Messi, just to make it fair.

I also took some warm-up pictures of players controlling the ball.

And here’s a night shot of the stadium.

Saturday June 14

A rainy Natal to a rainy Salvador via a rainy Brasilia

A day of disappointment is almost always followed by a restless and unsatisfying night’s sleep. Waking up half a dozen times in a panic thinking of all the things I could have done better didn’t make for a great start to the day. Add to that our 90-minute direct flight from Natal to Salvador was cancelled only to be replaced by an 10-hour trip via Brasilia. Oh well, good for air miles, at least.

I was going to ask our taxi driver on the way to the airport what he thought about the World Cup, but didn’t want to distract him as he drove in the pouring rain while keeping one eye on his “sat nav” showing a live stream of the match between Colombia and Greece.

On the plus side (come on, things couldn’t continue like this) I won a three-way wager on the outcome of the England v Italy clash involving myself, the wily Paul Barker, picture editor for Asia, and super cool fashionista Stefano Rellandini. I felt a little guilty betting against England but just because I might look a tad dumb…

Anyway enough about me, check out these beautiful pictures taken by a few of my great friends who also happen to be some of Reuters’ creme de la creme.

This one is a genuine cracker by the Machine, also known as Michael Dalder. Love it when a great goal makes a super frame.

This one by the infamous Kai Pfaffenbach is simply beautiful.

I liked this one too by King Eddie Keogh, formerly known as the Muscles from Brussels, due to his uncanny resemblance to Jean Claude Van Damme.

Friday June 13

Horrendous torrential 10 hour downpour in Natal

I am weirdly superstitious, don’t know why, and unfortunately I am beginning to think that maybe this beard is a hex. Which is a shame as I have just purchased a parrot, a peg leg and a tin can.

As days that I want to forget go, this one is right up there with coming down with a bad case of food poisoning on a Vietnamese train – if you were ever on a rattler from Hanoi to Saigon in the 90s you will know what I mean. And the day I learnt that beer and pizza were fattening.

Everything I had feared could go wrong, went wrong, and then a whole set of other things I hadn’t even considered going awry also went south. Pretty much the only good thing to happen was Jorge buying me a whiskey as soon as we got to the hotel, as sitting in wet clothes in the press room with the AC turned up to the max was not ideal. Jorge was happy as Mexico defeated Cameroon 1-0 and he had a cracking picture. Double win for him.

Next we are off to Salvador for Germany v Portugal. If my luck doesn’t change there, the razor is definitely coming out.

Although just thinking about this, it was Friday 13th, right? And haven’t they made movies about this being a bad day? So maybe the beard can stay after all.

Thursday June 12


What do you do when the one-and-only Carlos Barria, a Reuters photographer who is in training for some Iron Man contest, knocks on your door before 7 in the morning and says “wake up greybeard, the weather’s perfect, let’s go for a swim”?

Clearly I should have said: “go away you freak of nature”. But rather weirdly, less than five minutes later I found myself in the Atlantic and doing an unconvincing impersonation of that old-time swimmer-cum-Tarzan-actor Johnny Weissmuller. I have his slightly puzzled look down to a tee, I just need to work on the monochrome looks.

Trying to keep up with Iron Man was not easy but we braved the seas for what felt like miles and miles and miles.

Workwise we got lost trying to go to a stadium where they are still laying concrete and putting up signposts.

And it was 30 degrees. And the light left a lot to be desired. And the pictures were not as wonderful as we had hoped. And basically it was a typical MD-1 (match day minus one) experience. In other words, slightly disappointing. BUT I did get to swim in the sea.

Mexico v. Cameroon is our next challenge.

I’m just hoping that of all the things that can (and inevitably will) go wrong, that ones that actually come up won’t be too important.

Later Wednesday June 11

Heading to a very sunny Natal via an equally sunny Fortaleza

So I was going to go have some big rant in this post about leaving my room at 6 a.m. this morning to arrive at the airport, only to be told by the airline rep that my flight was cancelled - didn’t anyone tell me?

“Err no,” was my response.

Okay, no worries I was told, I was booked on a flight in 12 hours time

“Err no,” once again.

Luckily the nice lady took pity on Jorge and me and got us onto a flight to Natal but we had to go via Fortaleza.

I got a middle seat, and was subjected to episodes of Friends – such as the one with the jokes you have heard before. Drank horrible coffee and didn’t get anything to eat. But who cares? Pictures, as they famously say, speak a thousand words, and this is what happened.

I left here at 6 a.m.

Via here:

And exactly 11 hours later (almost to the minute) we were here. JOY.

Oh yeah and we got here in time to celebrate the birthday of another Reuters photographer, the legendary Toru Hanai, who was “29″ (not for the first time).

Thanks to Toru for the somewhat romantic picture of me and Jorge by the sea.

Early Wednesday June 11

Leaving a rainy Rio

After getting my luggage back, I’m pleased to find nothing is missing.

When I was wistfully thinking about my lost bag I imagined it full of all the secrets to the universe and able to solve all my problems. I’m not so sure now. Instead it’s just some rather unexciting t-shirts and shorts etc… I had hoped there would be more.

There is a razor but now I am almost liking this santa beard and have convinced myself that I resemble some cool cat from Mad Men or maybe even a suave beatnik. Never let the truth get in the way of reality, as they say.

Now, Wednesday morning, I’m about to get a flight to Natal with my main partner in crime the awesome Jorge Silva. He’s Mexican and we are going to shoot Mexico versus Cameroon on Friday.

Butterflies are starting to flutter, just thinking about it.

Tuesday June 10

A somewhat less sunny Rio

The worst thing that happened in the last 24 hours was that I sat on a dodgy chair with a protruding nail and ripped my ONLY pair of shorts in the buttocks area. Not nice if you’re not into that kind of thing.

Strangely, of all the things that didn’t go astray with my luggage at the airport was a very old hotel sewing kit. Remember they used to supply those back in the 90s? Well, I have one and now all I need to do is learn how to sew.

Almost the best thing that happened was being sent yesterday to cover a demonstration by women protesting for their right to go bare-chested on the beach.

As assignments go this one sounded like it had potential – go and photograph a bunch of topless women tussling with police as the sun sets on Ipanema beach. But you know that expression “if it’s too good to be true it probably is”? Well I was able to prove that. In the end there was no topless protest, no police and to round it off I didn’t even see the sunset.

I did get a nice shot of some people doing keepie-uppies on the beach though.

Absolutely the best thing to happen was my lost luggage finally turning up. Now I can shave off this beard that makes me look like a cross between Dumbledore (without the brains) and the Big Lebowski (without the cardigan).

Monday June 9

Sunny Rio

My luggage still hasn’t arrived. And my famous good humour (!) is waning as I start to become a public health hazard.

How many days is it okay to wear the same t-shirt? And can I make a flak jacket look fashionable? Unless I get a razor I am soon going to be mistaken for Father Christmas.

This is maybe not a good idea, so I decide to go shopping.

A small group of us have also done the tourist thing and gone to visit the statue of Christ the Redeemer, which overlooks Rio. The word “impressive” does not really do it justice.

Here is my picture of “the hand of God”. Get it?

And here’s the group of us doing our best to look like some kind of rock band posing next to some funky graffiti in a cool part of town.

I also collected one more person’s opinion about the World Cup.

Eric, one of our taxi drivers today, said: “okay, the politicians they rob everything but now we must all support Brazil. For me Neymar will be the main man.”

He had two Brazilian flags on his car, so no surprise really.

Sunday June 8

On the outskirts of Rio

Rather predictably, day one in a new place ahead of a major tournament is all about setting up cameras, laptops and getting accreditation. Very dull.

But now the cameras are ready and Elena took my accreditation photo.

Also I have this lovely room to welcome me to some place that I was told was Rio, but is actually 3 hours drive from the city. Luckily I love taxis.

Still no luggage.

Saturday June 7

On board a plane and arriving in balmy Rio

I’m thinking luck is on my side. I’ve got an aisle seat for this 12-hour flight and next to me is one of the very few empty seats on the plane. By the window is a small, quiet Italian, there are movies I haven’t seen and I recognise an old family friend who I was not expecting to bump into. So all should be well, right?

Then the pilot comes on and says in his oh-so-special dulcet pilot voice that more than 100 of us passengers will not be accompanied by our luggage today. All those carefully prepared bags, gone astray because of some global computer malfunction.

Suddenly everybody on the plane is thinking ‘I hope it’s not my luggage…’ But we can’t all be lucky and, let’s face it, I am sure there are people more desperate to get their luggage than me.

After all, I have my cameras and music and something to read with me. And if I am not mistaken they do have shops in Brazil, so whatever.

I kind of believe in karma, and thought that the luggage business had already balanced out the empty seat when the air hostess reached me and said they had run out of the popular chicken curry and all they had now was some rather unappetising, wildly overcooked, pasta dish.

As it happens I was half lucky, one of my check-in bags arrived – the one with the gas mask and flak jacket and one change of clothes.

So far I have asked two people who will win the World Cup.

Brian, a British taxi driver who took me from my home to the airport, said he wanted Brazil to win. He remembers the great Brazil team of 1970 and wants to see more football like that.

Beatrice, the Italian I sat next to on the plane said “well of course I am Italian so I want Italy to win. But Brazil will win, come on it’s in Brazil for goodness sake.”

Friday June 6 – Packing headache

Sunny London

So what do you take with you when you are going to Brazil to cover the World Cup, and your trip involves 14 flights, and about 39 nights in seven different cities with nine changes of hotel?

Bear in mind I won’t be spending more than two nights in a single hotel for the first three weeks. So no chance of doing laundry then.

I decide I really, really need music (that fits on my phone), books (they fit on my tablet thing), a laptop for whatever, headphones (of course) and credit cards. And tea (just in case).

Oh, and don’t forget three cameras, five or six essential lenses, monopod, chargers, myriad computer accessories, security clothing, adapters and, and, and…

Slideshow (131 Images)

Most importantly, I should travel light, and remember not to take the dog.

How did I do? Well, in the end, it all weighs in at over 60 kilos.


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