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Football in South America

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Even in the most rural parts of Peru, you're never far away from a kick around. Here on the road between Cusco and Lake Titicaca, well out of sight of the tourists, a girls match - Barcelona vs. Argentina - is watched by the community.

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Up on the main square of Taquile island in Lake Titicaca, a young boy proves you don't need a pitch, goals, team-mates or even a proper football to enjoy a kick around

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Some of the football pitches on Lake Tititcaca are the humblest we've seen. Still, when you live on floating reed islands, any solid ground is fair game.

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Brazilian beaches and football just seem made for each other. Here in sleepy Paraty, there are few crowds to contend with.

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You don't have to walk for very long in Rio de Janeiro until you see a football game of some description taking place. As backdrops go, Leblon beach takes some beating.

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Footballers in La Paz don't just have to contend with the altitude, but also the shadows cast by the city's teleférico cable cars. And the the distraction of those incredible views we imagine...

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It's only when you see some of the stadiums of South America - like this one in La Paz - from above that you get a sense of just how integrated they are with their local community. Space is at a premium in the canyon.

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It was in this stadium at La Paz's dizzying altitudes that an Argentina team featuring Lionel Messi and led by manager Diego Maradona were humbled 6-1 by a modest Bolivia team back in 2009. As we were flying over on the teleférico, a local league match was in progress.

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Now that's a proper birds-eye view - football seen from the cable cars of La Paz

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Football in the high altitude jungles of Colombia's Ciudad Perdida (the Lost City)

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Heading straight for the top corner below the jungles of northern Colombia.

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Football even travels across oceans in South America. On the Galápagos island of Santiago, crews from the boats take some time out to have a kick around.

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In the quiet backstreets of San Telmo in Buenos Aires, a kick around takes place in the shadow of a beautiful onion-domed Russian church. You know what they say about football being a religion...

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There are few stadiums in the world as eye-catching, or as atmospheric on match day, as Boca Junior's iconic Bombonera Stadium, right in the heart of La Boca.

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Boca Juniors' rivalry with River Plate is legendary. The working class Genoese immigrants of La Boca vs. the upper class 'Millionarios' of Palermo.

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It seems the popularity of Lionel Messi, current superstar of Argentina (and football in general) pales in comparison to the status enjoyed by Diego Maradona, he of the Hand of God. There’s work to be done and trophies to be won if Messi wants to be worshipped in the same way as Maradona.

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Even legendary tango singer and Buenos Aires icon Carlos Gardel has to compete with the nation's favourite sport for attention in La Boca.

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Perhaps the most iconic football stadium in the world - Rio's Maracanã. Host to World Cup finals and the Olympic Games, the stadium to fell into a sad state of abandonment in 2017. It was even looted by locals. Fortunately it has since been bought by foreign investors, promising a return to former glories.

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Even only a fraction full, the atmosphere in the Maracanã is special. Here, locals go wild as Botafogo score a crucial goal in a top-of-the-table clash. The bench is emptied and a couple in the row in front allow their passions to spill over.

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From the iconic beaches of Brazil, all the way up to the high altitude city streets of the Andes, a love of football unites a continent. And from the most celebrated stadiums to the most humble improvised pitches, we've traced this love of football as we've bounced around South America.

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