The World’s Love Affair With Soccer: A History in Photos

The World Cup: 32 nations, 64 matches, 1 billion viewers, 1 winner.

From the beaches of Rio de Janeiro to the busy streets of London to the stadiums of Buenos Aires, TIME presents a view of the global fervor around the big, beautiful game, seen through the eyes of Magnum Photos’ award-winning photographers.

As the World Cup returns to its spiritual home, Brazil, these are the classic goals and heart-stopping highlights, and the all-time great players — Garrincha, Pele, Jairzinho, Carlos Alberto — that give the 2014 host country its deep roots in fútbol.

 

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