Photo Essay: Soccer Fields Are Everywhere in Rio

Whether professional-grade expanses of grass or improvised rectangles of dirt and rocks, they're found in high-rent neighborhoods and tucked into "favela" hillside slums of this chaotic city of 12 million people that is one of the World Cup host cities.

8 photos
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AP
In this Tuesday, June 3, 2014 photo, kids play soccer at the Pavao Pavaozinho slum in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. A proper field is a luxury that many of Rio's football fanatics dispense of, playing anywhere they can find a sufficiently large, flat surface. In the slums barefoot kids take over the concrete of irregularly shaped passageways.
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In this Sunday, June 1, 2014 photo, youth play soccer in the Sao Carlos slum in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Whether professional-grade or improvised, in high-rent neighborhoods or tucked into "favela" hillside slums, soccer fields are literally everywhere throughout this chaotic metropolis of 12 million.
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In this Tuesday, June 3, 2014 photo, kids play soccer at the Cantagalo slum in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Rio de Janeiro might be best known for its white sandy beaches and dramatic rocky outcroppings, but soccer pitches are just as ubiquitous a part of the World Cup city's landscape. The Two Brothers Mountain and Ipanema neighborhood are seen at top left.
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In this Wednesday, June 4, 2014 photo, two boys watch kids play soccer at the Mangueira slum in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Between the kids' soccer schools and the adults who cap their workdays with a "pelada," or informal match, competition for fields is stiff, particularly in the late afternoons and evenings.
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In this June 6, 2014 photo, people play soccer at the Dona Marta slum, backdropped by the Christ the Redeemer statue and Corcovado Mountain in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. City - or charity - run "escolinhas," or soccer schools, operate in nearly all of the slums, from the Dona Marta shantytown, which is ensconced in the middle-class Botafogo neighborhood, to Mangueira, a historic slum overlooking the mythical Maracana Stadium, where six World Cup matches plus the final are to be held.
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In this Sunday, June 1, 2014 photo, kids play soccer at the Sao Carlos slum in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Similar scenes play out in the Cantagalo slum, where boys hone their skills on a sliver of concrete in the shadow of Ipanema beach's iconic Dois Irmaos rock formation.
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In this Thursday, June 5, 2014 photo, people play soccer at the Tavares Bastos slum in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
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In this Thursday, June 5, 2014 photo, people play soccer in the Flamengo neighborhood, backdropped by Sugar Loaf mountain in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. In Flamengo, the sprawling park overlooking Sugarloaf Mountain where several Olympic events are to be held during the 2016 games, towering streetlights illuminate much-disputed fields all through the night and matches take place at two, three, four o'clock in the morning.
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