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|| SportsShooter.com: News Item: Posted 2006-07-30

World Cup 2006: New technique, over-attended games and good beer
By John Todd

Photo by John Todd

Photo by John Todd

Ghana flies high against the USA.
Wow, I can't believe it's been four years since my last article for the Sports Shooter Newsletter. Either they need to hold the World Cup every two years, or I better start shooting some other sports!

What a contrast between Korea-Japan 2002 and Germany 2006. In 2002, I was on my own, just trying to keep up with the USA's phenomenal run to the quarterfinals. In 2006, we had a team of six photographers covering 50 matches around Germany. Major props to our team members:
Brad Smith, Chris Putman, Douglas Zimmerman, Brooks Parkenridge, Trent Davol, Tony Quinn, and our state-side editor Howard Smith.

I only covered the USA matches, as I was following USA practices and press conferences every day. While I was jealous of my fellow shooters covering so many matches, the off-pitch images would have been historically important--if the USA had advanced past the first-round.

My gear consisted of the following:
1. Two - 1D Mark2 camera bodies
2. 400mm 2.8
3. 20D camera body (goal cam remote)
4. 17-40mm
5. 70-200mm 2.8
6. 1.4 and 2x extender
7. Apple IBook G4 laptop
8. A bunch of CF cards, since I am shooting all games in RAW now.

I recently started using a technique of shooting one handed with my 70-200 zoom. It was tough to do at first, but once you get the hang of it, the switch from holding the 400 to the 70-200 as the players approach is faster than with two hands. I was able to make two images I would not have made otherwise. The first of the Italians celebrating in front of me, and the other, a shot of a Ghana player kicking sideways in the air.

Considering the USA's high-profile world status at the moment, security was tight for the team, but really did not impede photographers' access any more than other WC squads.

Photographers experienced the usual dog searches and pat downs by the German authorities, but the atmosphere surrounding the team was pretty relaxed considering the potential threats.

Photo by John Todd

Photo by John Todd

The USA player celebrating is the shot that would have been. If not called back, this goal would most likely launched the USA into the next round, and, redeemed this player, DaMarcus Beasley.
The hardest part of the tournament was getting to and from the matches due to the amount of fans attending Fan Fests near the stadiums. All press were able to use their media pass as a first - class train ticket, but after matches the trains were so full with fans, you could potentially wait for hours after a match just to squeeze on a train.

After the USA - Italy match in Kaiserslautern, I spoke with a few writers who were not able to board a train until 5am to get back to their hotels, and still had to squeeze into train cars packed with drunken, but friendly fans.

I'd call this World Cup a super-sized version of previous WC's for the media. Being in Europe, media attendance was phenomenal. Just about every game was over-attended by photographers and writers.

While you were credentialed for the tournament, you had to apply for each match and then you were awarded a match ticket for each game if accepted. FIFA did a really nice job ensuring access for those media covering their home teams or region. We were denied several high-profile games such as England-Sweden, but as a whole, our access to games was outstanding. I think FIFA did a fine job considering the level of interest for the Cup.

A few highlights of the trip would be:
1. The beer, it's really that good over there.
2. The brats, still running off my daily one or two brat allowance!
3. Hamburg. We were initially disappointed when we found out the USA would be based there. To our pleasant surprise, Hamburg turned out to be a remarkable city. Very international, and the weather was perfect.
4. Brad Smith standing his ground against a couple of English thugs who tried to steal his cab after a match! He was rewarded with a nice shiner, but he got the cab, and looked pretty tough for the rest of the tournament.

All in all it was a great trip. I want to give a special thanks to our whole ISI team and the press officers at US Soccer.


(John Todd was the team photographer for Major League Soccer's San Jose Earthquakes from 1996 through their final season in San Jose in 2005. He also owns and operates International Sports Images, the official photography supplier to the U.S. Men and Women's soccer teams. You can view his images at: http://www.sportsshooter.com/johntodd)

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