"Maracana" - the legendary Brazilian stadium

Posted on Mar 13, 2022      355

In 1946, at the next FIFA Congress, Brazil proposed its candidacy to host the FIFA World Cup. Originally it was supposed that the tournament would take place in 1949, but in the end it was held by the world championship a year later. The choice of Brazil was logical, soccer in this country is well developed, and Europe lay in ruins after World War II. The Brazilians had prepared for the championship thoroughly, building in Rio de Janeiro the largest stadium at the time.

Construction of the stadium began in 1948. Officially it was named “Mario Filho”, after the Brazilian journalist, who contributed significantly to preparing his country for the grand sporting event. But the stadium is better known around the world as Maracana, after the name of the river that runs next to the construction site.

Up to 1,500 workers worked on the construction of Maracana, making sure the stadium was ready for soccer matches by the deadline. True, all work was not fully completed until 1965. The first game at the Maracana was held on 16 June 1950. The youth teams from Rio de Janeiro and Sao Paulo met there. And on June 24, the national teams of Brazil and Mexico took the field, a match between these teams opened the World Football Championship.

The Brazilians won with no problems, 4-0. The hosts would have no problems at the World Cup, but the major disappointment was ahead. In the decisive game at the Maracana, the Brazilians faced Uruguay. Unbelievable thing happened: the tournament’s hosts and the main favorites unexpectedly lost 1:2, although they were leading 1-0. Even the home crowd didn’t help.

On that day, the Maracana drew a record number of spectators, according to some sources, about 200,000. And the Brazilian players had to leave the stadium under police cover as fans tried to break into the field and punish the provinces, who until recently had been national heroes.

But the stadium itself continued to set one record after another. In 1963, for example, over 177,000 tickets were sold for a match between the clubs Flamengo and Fluminense. Never before had a national championship match attracted so many spectators. Rarely have the stands of the Maracana seen less than 100,000 fans.

It was here, on November 19, 1969, that the “King of Football” Pele, who played for Santos, scored his 1,000th match in official games. True, the soccer fans themselves expected that the goal would be scored from the game, but everything turned out much more prosaic, his jubilee goal Pele sent to the club Vasco da Gama from a penalty kick.

In 1980 Brazil was preparing to celebrate the 30th anniversary of its most famous stadium. In honor of this event in Brazil, in a friendly match was invited a team of the Soviet Union. The meeting was scheduled for June 15. The Brazilians made a special cup, worth 30,000 dollars, which was intended for the winner of this meeting. And in their success, the hosts had no doubts.

But, just as 30 years ago, fans were disappointed. 130,000 fans witnessed the defeat of their favorites. Everything developed almost according to the Uruguayan script. First Nunez opened the scoring, and then Fedor Cherenkov and Sergey Andreev sent two goals to the home team. The Brazilians lost again with a score of 1-2.

Over time, Maracana lost its status as the largest soccer stadium in the world. In 1992, there was a tragedy here. The grandstand fence collapsed. Three people were killed and several dozen others were seriously injured. It became clear that Maracana needed serious reconstruction. Besides, FIFA has banned unnumbered seats in stadiums.

And many fans with little money bought so-called “geral” - standing seats. Buying other tickets was a luxury they could not afford. The reconstruction reduced the capacity of the stadium to 82,000 people. Currently, Maracana is not even among the 50 largest stadiums in the world.

But, this does not prevent Maracana from remaining the pride of Brazil. In 2014, the World Cup matches were held here again. And the last match was held at Maracana again. True, without Brazil, which in the 1/2 finals unexpectedly lost to Germany with a devastating score of 1-7. But the embarrassment happened not at Maracana, but at the stadium Mineirão in the city of Belo Horizonte.

In 2006, the Maracana opened the Museum of Football. Visitors to the museum can see many exhibits related to the history of Brazilian soccer. For example, the goal net into which Pele scored his famous 1,000th goal of his career. Or the uniform of Garrincha, in which he became a world champion in 1962. In 1998, the Maracana was included among the historic monuments of Brazil.