In the world of urban street art, Brazil is often seen as a kind of Mecca: the country moved to make street art legal in 2009, and the country's street artists frequently travel around the world, exhibiting their uniquely jubilant style of painting on a global scale. In the soccer world, Brazil is an equally prestigious location, famous for producing soccer stars like Pele, Garrincha, Kaka and Ronald and winning the World Cup an astounding five times. It should come as no surprise, then, that when football and street art come together in Brazil, it makes for an incredible sight.
Since the 1970s, Brazilians have been combining their penchant for soccer and street art by taking to the streets to create beautiful works of art that celebrate the country's passion for football—and this year Google Street View is making the artwork available to the public.
"For the first time, Google Maps is bringing Street View to the iconic painted streets, one of Brazil’s traditions for the games," a Google spokesperson said. "This allows us to share the importance and cultural significance of the tournament with a global audience, and brings us closer to our ultimate goal of creating the world’s most comprehensive, accurate and usable map."
Street View used both their tried-and-true Street View Car, fitted with a panoramic camera, as well as newer Photo Sphere technology, which allows users to take panoramic images on their personal devices, to capture over 80 brilliantly painted streets throughout the country. The art on display ranges from painted walls in the capital of Rio de Janeiro to painted streets (under a canopy of bright streamers) in the Amazonian city of Manaus.
"This imagery in Google Maps will serve as a digital record of this year’s event and as a legacy for football fans all over the world," the Google spokesperson said.
Still, Brazil's street art is less uniformly celebratory than it has been in years past. As Brazil's citizens continue to feel the burden of hosting the World Cup—estimated costs of hosting the tournament reach over 11 billion dollars—images have begun popping up on the country's streets and buildings that tell a story not of celebration, but of protest. Many dissenting murals depict Brazilian citizens—especially children—beleaguered by images of soccer balls or caricatures of FIFA members. An especially poignant mural shows a Brazilian child, ribs wide from hunger, wailing as he looks down at the soccer ball on his dinner plate. With such a riff between the troves of international fans coming to Brazil to celebrate soccer and the Brazilian citizen bearing the brunt of the tournament, it's difficult to say exactly what the legacy of the 2014 FIFA World Cup will be.