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The Brazilian underground football subculture

"Várzea" is so much more than football.

The Brazilian underground football subculture
"Várzea" is so much more than football.
The Brazilian underground football subculture Várzea is so much more than football.

Far from the huge stadiums of the World Cup, the cool shirts, and extra green grasses, there is another side of Brazilian football that reminds us what is the essence of this sport. Between October 2016 and April 2017, photographer Simon Di Principe traveled around Brazil to gain first-hand experience on the pitches of the underground and punk communities that herald themselves as proudly disorganized. The photos capture filthy pitches, colorful shirts, and tribal atmosphere and they have been collected by Di Principe in the book Várzea that has been published earlier this month.


The word 'Várzea' refers to the geographical terrain of the 'floodplain' areas football was first played in Brazil in the late 1800's. 'Várzea' is also a word used to describe anything made precariously, something which is improvised, that is broken or not quite right. Futebol de Vàrzea is a DIY subculture of independent tournaments, leagues and festive matches – it is a proudly disorganized alternative to the sanitized practices of professional stadium football.
nss sports asked Di Principe what is the concept behind the book and the importance of Varazea.

The concept of the book is to produce a documentation of the social importance of Várzea to the communities and people that are involved, it is not just about football it is about community and coming together. Sometimes people don't have a lot and belonging to something is what makes people happy feeling part of something. Várzea is this it is so much more than football.

My book is a small insight into that through my time in Brazil that is why the text and the writing in the book by academics and football enthusiasts is so important as it gives the reader knowledge and understanding of the book as a whole.

Furthermore, we asked Simon about how he realized the book from a technical perspective.

The book focuses on São Paulo, Belo Horizonte, and Manaus and the process is just as important as the product to me. Each photograph was taken on film and hand printed, the final selection was then curated into a book and litho-printed in Belgium. The titles were hand painted by a font specialist in Brazil, she chose to reference type that is very everyday and typically Brazilian.

You can buy the book online here.