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Jane Stockdale | Watching the World Cup

Words: Good Sport

Images: Jane Stockdale

Jane Stockdale is photographer from a small town in Scotland and is currently based in London. Good Sport has worked with Jane since the inception of the magazine so we were thrilled when Jane got in touch to let us know her body of work titled ‘Watching the World Cup’ was becoming a book.

Watching the World Cup is a photo essay documenting the 2014 World Cup. Brazil is synonymous with football. Even so, no one knew what to expect. Massive street protests during the previous year’s Confederations Cup revealed frustration with stadium spending and a deep-rooted desire for change in the country. During this year, the authorities braced themselves for more. But when football fans from all over the world arrived, Brazilians threw away their troubles and set about hosting one of the happiest, most exciting World Cups ever.

From a farm to the favelas, the beach to an A+E department, this book brings you the story of Brazilians and fans from all over the world as they live the agony and ecstasy of the Brazil World Cup.


We caught up with Jane just as she was heading over to Moscow to document more of this years World Cup.

Also, It’s available to pre-order now here…

What moment  or opportunity sparked you to create this work?

I’ve been shooting crowds ever since I was at art school in Edinburgh – at football matches, festivals, protests, gigs – everyone always shoots the pop-star / rock-star / sports-star but I was really interested to capture the energy and vibe of the crowd.

Also my dear friend Cassiano Prado co-directed a big World Cup ad with Fernando Meirelles that they spent 6 months shooting with different players like Messi and Suarez in different cities. They shot a lot of crowd scenes with hundreds of extras, so this inspired me to document what the World Cup was like for real.

What is one distinct memory you have from creating the work?

Obviously the night Brazil lost 7-1 was unforgettable. We were in favela Complexo do Alemão, and started to watch this match at a friends house with 5 generations of her family. Her entire family, from baby to great-great-Grandmother, were all watching in stunned silence and shell-shock. At 5-0 we thought things might kick off (two weeks before there was a shoot out and three people died). At 6-0 I bought a round of drinks for an entire bar to try to shift the mood. By 7-0 we were all hugging, jumping and cheering on Germany. Football is crucial to Brazilian identity, so this was such a catastrophic shock. But the party that night was probably also one of the best I’ve ever been to – they partied like it was the end of the world!

Thinking back to Brazil 2014 and now Russia 2018 – What kind of similarities and differences are you noticing.

In the run-up to both World Cups there was a deep cynicism. In Brazil there were protests at the amounts spent on FIFA stadiums when there were more urgent social issues to solve. In the build up to this World Cup, the poisoning of the Russian double agent in the UK led to geo-political distrust, with Russian diplomats being expelled from the UK and tit-for-tat expulsions around the world. No one in the UK seemed to expect much from this tournament. But to me, the World Cup shows how sport can transcend politics. Like in Brazil, the World Cup in Russia has so far been epic and unforgettable.

Moscow is such a cool city and people are super friendly and kind. I was fortunate to be there for the start of the World Cup to document the launch of Nike Box MSK, a huge sports centre in Gorky Park. Brazilian legend Ronaldo was there for the Nike launch and to carry the ball on the pitch at the opening match of the World Cup. The atmosphere and energy throughout the Moscow streets and stadiums has been electric.

Football is always unpredictable. Yet this has been a World Cup like no other. The USA, Holland and Italy didn’t qualify. Panama, Peru and Switzerland did. World Cup favourites Germany, Argentina, Spain and Portugal are out. No one thought much of the Russian team but, so far they’ve defied all expectations to make it to the quarter finals. England have also made it through – I’m flying back to Moscow tomorrow!

What’s something you hope people may take away from reading/viewing Watching The World Cup book?

This whole project documents how no matter who you are, what you do, where you come from, the World Cup unites people. That’s what I love about it.

What teams have the wildest fans in your observations so far?

I’ve never hugged so many crying fans in my life as the night Argentina lost the World Cup final. The Argentinian fans wear their hearts on their sleeves and bring a passion like no other.

But also it was Peru’s first World Cup since 1982 so they were out in force on the Moscow streets. It’s quite humbling the individual stories of the fans, some who’ve saved for months to travel half-way around the world on a pilgrimage to support their national team.

Your photographs are drenched in atmosphere and right in amongst what is happening – Can you describe a little bit about your approach?

I just want to capture whats happening from the heart of the action. I also chat to everyone first to explain what I’m up to and always try to email them the photos. After the World Cup in Brazil this took me about 5 days as I had hundreds of emails addresses in my phone and scrawled on scraps of paper.

#1 Tip as a football fan/spectator?

Get involved

What’s next for you in the world of photographing football and its spectators?

Unbelievably Holland didn’t qualify for this World Cup so I’ve been creating a TV ad for one of the main sponsors of the Dutch National Team. We travelled all around Holland shooting teams and players on all levels from kids playing after school to the Dutch National Team training and playing international friendlies against England. The final ad will air for the first time on TV just before the World Cup final in Holland which is super exciting.

So after this project launches I’ll probably be emailing all the people I photographed to say a big thank you.


The book is a team project and created in collaboration between Jane, designer Patrick Fry, writer Damian Platt, Digital designers Sofia Lace and Matteo Belfiore from Enjoythis, the micro-site was coded by Manu Moreale.  Jane says ‘We wanted to create an honest documentary that shares the story of the World Cup through the eyes of the fans.’