Brazilian photographer Francisco Attié longed for the nostalgia of watching the World Cup with his family and his countryfolk. So, he embarked on a journey to find home at tournament watch parties throughout the city.
One of my earliest memories is of being home in Brazil, where I’m awakened by my parents in the early morning and then carried, half-asleep, to my neighbor’s house to watch Brazil beat Germany in the 2002 World Cup final.
I don’t actually remember much of the game. But what stayed with me after all these years are the colors, the palpable tension and the celebrations. I remember the yellow jerseys we were all wearing. I remember the Brazilian flags hanging in my neighbor’s house. I remember the gasps and the shouts. I remember my younger brother sleeping on my mother’s chest, and the fireworks outside after every goal; the screams and blaring car horns coming from many houses down, perhaps neighborhoods away, as Brazil won the game and lifted its fifth World Cup.
This was one of the formative moments of my life. To this day I equate waking up early, before the sun has fully come out, with adventure. And every four years, I hope to relive the memories I made as a little kid.
Twenty years and five World Cups later, for the first time in my life, I have spent an entire World Cup away from home. New York isn’t the most soccer-oriented city in the world, and it was hard to imagine spending this time away from family and friends. But an international metropolis such as this certainly has its perks. For one, if I looked hard enough, I was sure I could find many of the nationalities present in the World Cup represented throughout the boroughs.
So, I went out into the city looking for pockets of life — a home away from home, where I could find people as dedicated to watching the World Cup as that little boy and his family. With this series of photos, I sought to capture fans at their most vulnerable, their most elated and their most enthralled.
And even though Brazil didn’t win this time around, I still got to enjoy the World Cup through the eyes of many different cultures. In Harlem, I met Senegalese fans who spoke Portuguese and, at one point in their lives, called Brazil home, too. In Bushwick, I saw Ecuadorian fans celebrate a win in the World Cup’s opening game. In Red Hook, I met up with Brazilian fans and got to speak and hear my mother tongue, which I seldom hear nowadays. But nothing could have prepared me for what I experienced in Astoria, after Morocco beat Portugal and became the first African team to make it to the World Cup semifinals.
That day, I saw fireworks and smoke signals popping off in the streets. I saw children being carried on the shoulders of their parents, holding flags from all North African nations and many others from the Middle East. I heard screams of “Dima Maghreb!” (“Morocco forever!” in Moroccan Arabic). I saw people crying and dancing with joy. At one point, I got caught in the middle of the crowd as people started jumping and singing, “On va s’aimer, on va danser, oui, c’est la vie” (“We will love one another, we will dance, yes, that’s life,” in French), and I couldn’t help but jump and sing along with them. At that moment, I thought of my family, forgot the pains of days past and remembered what it was like to watch and celebrate for the very first time. I felt like I was home.