Football first arrived in Brazil in 1894, and in June 2014 the world will watch as the game’s biggest tournament is played across the nation. But Brazillian football is not just played in stadiums and municipal pitches: as photographer Christopher Pillitz shows, Brazilians find space to play in scrap yards, oil rigs – and even on a flyover.
His new book Brazil: The Beautiful Game collects images taken over two decades that reveal, according to journalist Eduardo Bueno, “a passion that’s stamped on walls in graffiti; that permeates through favelas, back alleys and tower blocks; that’s tattooed on bodies”.
In the book’s foreword, Bueno writes: “It’s about street football: football’s soul; football without rules, without reins, without restrictions or referees’ whistles.” Sometimes, even, without a ball. “Many a game has been played with a bundle of socks or a rolled-up newspaper, even, in desperation, an orange.”
Pillitz grew up in Argentina, and started his project as a way of documenting the significance of football to Brazilian identity. Perched on rooftops in favelas or peering through bars in a prison, he was able to take photographs because of his focus on the game. “I always mentioned that I was in search of football,” he tells BBC Culture. “This was the magic word for the access I received pretty much unhindered.”