These photos of elation and heartbreak show the teams and fans of nations as they fought for a coveted spot in the 2018 World Cup.
Football can be a contrasting experience. Some see faceless, miniature people in uniform, chasing after a ball and kicking it blindly into a net. Nothing exciting happens, but it’s funny when the commentator yells “GOOOOOOOOOOL!”
For others, football is a little more complicated. Their very identities hang in the balance with every game. The faceless players are actually superheroes who represent fans’ deeply embedded childhood memories, from the first time they cheered on their team at the stadium, seated like royalty on dad’s shoulders, to that brilliant play they made with a schoolmate at recess, sealing a friendship for life.
The feeling is exponential when you’re talking about the World Cup. For an entire month club team allegiances don’t matter, and the colors on every countryman’s jersey are the same. Nations see past class and conflict, instead coming together in pride and hope.
Here we take a look at those who see football this way. For the past two years, Shutterstock followed fans, teams, and nations as they fought for a coveted spot in the 2018 World Cup. Some made it, leading entire countries into euphoria. Others failed, shattering the dreams of millions. In both cases, however, emotions were felt in a way only The Beautiful Game can bring to life.