The Maracana stadium
Maracana, once the worlds greatest playground for world famous soccer stars such as Ronaldo, Romario, Sócrates Brasileiro Sampaio de Souza Vieira de Oliveira, Carlos Alberto, Cafu, Roberto Carlos, Falcao, Junior, Pele, Rivaldo, Rivelino, Romario, Ronaldinho, Ronaldo, Djalma Santos, Nilton Santos, Socrates, Zico and the list goes on...
The Maracana was built in 1950 for the fourth World Cup, the first after after a twelve-year absence due to World War II. When the stadium opened on June 16, 1950, it was officially known as the Estadio Municipal. Later, in 1964, it was named after Mario Filho, the founder of Jornal dos Sports, Rio de Janeiro's daily newspaper. However, to the locals, it was simply called the Maracana, taking its name from the small river that flows by the facility. The name given by the people took the place of the formal name and eventually the stadium became known to the world simply as Maracana.
Built in reinforced concrete as a giant oval of two tiers, divided by a smaller intermediate level of open boxes. Circling the rear 34 rows was a dramatic sweeping roof, which, at that time, was the largest spanning cantilevered cover in the world, spanning nearly 30 meters.
This made the Maracana the world’s biggest football stadium of its glory days, with an official world-record attendance of 199,854 for the 1950 World Cup Final against Ururguay. On my visit there with my parents, a guide told the story which shook the brazilian people at the time,
The story of the finals between Brazil and Uruguay:
“Brazil only needed a tie to win and be world champions on their home grounds. That day, the stadium was filled to capacity and then some. There were people standing everywhere, even on the roof. The excitement was hard to describe!”
The old guide is explaining in Portuguese with a loud voice, waving his hands to give the impression of how much this game meant to the Brazilians.
“ai, ai, ai ai, esta chegando a hora, the crowd was roaring, “which means ,the time is coming. “Brazil got ahead by one goal to nothing in the second half and the crowd started yelling, ole! every time a Brazilian defensive player would pass the ball to another, while the Uruguayans would try to get the ball away to initiate an attack.
Then the tides began to turn. Suddenly out of nowhere the Uruguay team scored! Still, the Brazilians would be world champions with a tie. The cheers started to grow, and all of the hundred thousand of Brazilians were screaming to the Brazilian team to attack and score another goal.
The crowd was throwing confetti and chanting and cheering and everyone was standing, just waiting for the final whistle to blow. Then, suddenly, right at the end of the match, Uruguay got the ball and scored. A second later, the game was over. The shock hit the crowd in a fundamental wave.
The entire stadium was silent!!
199,854 spectators held their breath and you could hear a breeze of wind passing. People were crying holding their heads. Flags were burned and bottles were thrown around. The disappointment was indescribable! Even today the story of when Uruguay stole the world championship is told among patriots.
Luckily, since then Brazil has won several times since then (1958, 1962, 1970, 1994 and 2001) and now wear five stars on their chest representing number of times they have become the world champions.
The glory days of the Maracana are long gone, and the facilities are slowly deteriorating even though work is being done to restore it.
The Maracana still attracts allot of people among other things for shows. In April 1990, the Maracana set the record for the largest stadium-based concert attendance when Paul McCartney and Wings played to a crowd of 184,368
Today, Maracana is being upgraded for the Pan Amarican games in 2007 and the Brazilians are also applying for the 2012 Olympic Summer games, where plans are made to use the Maracana as grounds for football, volleyball and waterpolo.
From the Maracana and back to homepage
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