World Cup Stars Wear Their Flags

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The June issue of Vanity Fair, Annie Leibovitz set out to capture some of the sport’s biggest stars, including Portugal’s Cristiano Ronaldo, Ivory Coast’s Didier Drogba, Cameroon’s Samuel Eto’o, and Brazil’s Kaká. Leibovitz’s portraits are, well, revealing. Looks like Landon Donovan even made an appearances in the photo shoot.

For the June issue of Vanity Fair, Annie Leibovitz set out to capture some of the sport’s biggest stars, including Portugal’s Cristiano Ronaldo, Ivory Coast’s Didier Drogba, Cameroon’s Samuel Eto’o, Ghana’s Sulley Muntari, the U.S.A.’s Landon Donovan, Brazil’s Kaká and Pato, Italy’s Gianluigi Buffon, Serbia’s Dejan Stankovic, England’s Carlton Cole, and Germany’s Michael Ballack. . Leibovitz’s portraits are, well, revealing. And underwear has never looked so patriotic. In America, these men might not enjoy the same name recognition as the stars of the N.F.L.—that game that we call football—but for most of the planet, they are more than just showstoppers.

They are gods. A. A. Gill, in his accompanying June-issue essay, captures just how important football (don’t you dare call it “soccer,” he warns) and the World Cup are to the 6.8 billion of us who live on Planet Earth. “Football took to the world pitch at about the same time as the modern independent nation-state,” Gill writes. “After a flag, a national anthem, and a press release decrying Yankee imperialism, the next thing newly minted nations do is build a stadium and come up with a national grudge match.”

I guess this sort of evens things out what with the Playboy promotion Nike did for the U.S. national team jersey and then SI’s painted WAG display in SI’s swimsuit issue.

 

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