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May 2008

Agence France-Press (AFP) in Germany has opened an exhibition of mainly football images shot almost entirely on Canon cameras. The show, entitled ‘Magic Ball – the Fascination of (Foot)Balls’, is sponsored by Canon and features 60 images, mostly depicting the ‘beautiful game’, from street scenes in South America and the Middle East to World Cup finals.

© AFP Photo/Daniel Silva Yoshisato

A women’s football team in Cuzco, Peru. Photographer Daniel Silva Yoshisato won first prize Sports Features Stories in the World Press Photo Contest 2005 for the series from which this was taken.

Timed to tie in with next month’s European Football Championships in Austria and Switzerland, the exhibition, showing at the Landesvertretung Rhineland-Plalz until 18 May, grew out of AFP’s 2006 book and exhibition ‘100 Football Photos for Press Freedom’ published in support of Reporters Without Borders. Much has been added to that work including images from the World Cup in 2006. Some of the frames will be placed in the Canon Professional Services space in Vienna during the European Championships.

The exhibition is split into three parts: ‘Balls Everywhere’ – 10 images showing children and amateurs around the world playing football; ‘Matchballs’ – 40 images from professional matches; and ‘Extraballs’ showing 10 images of footballs in other context and balls from other sports.

Karl-Hans Sattler, managing editor, AFP Germany, told CPN that football has been “a magician and a magnet” for many generations. “Part of fascination of the game is in the uncertainty of the movement of the ball and the questions it asks of people,” he said.


The ‘Magic Ball’ exhibition in the Landesvertretung Rhineland-Plalz in Berlin.

“Thousands of pictures have been taken of our footballing heroes like Zidane and Ballack, but here it looks as if they’ve been arranged by a ballet director,” said Sattler. “Sometimes it looks like they are dancing with the ball or having a kind of conversation with the ball.”

AFP has bureaus in 165 countries and works with more than 500 photographers worldwide.