Maracanã, Jewel Of Rio’s Olympics, Now Languishes In Disrepair – NPR

Maracanã Stadium, pictured just months ago when it was in its Olympic-level shape for the Rio Games. Hundreds of millions of dollars have gone into renovating the decades-old stadium, a venue that has been described as Brazil’s “soccer cathedral.”

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Maracanã Stadium, pictured just months ago when it was in its Olympic-level shape for the Rio Games. Hundreds of millions of dollars have gone into renovating the decades-old stadium, a venue that has been described as Brazil’s “soccer cathedral.”

Yasuyoshi Chiba/AFP/Getty Images

Maracanã Stadium has been a fixture of the Rio de Janeiro skyline for decades. Opened just in time to play host to Brazil’s heartbreak in the 1950 World Cup, it underwent massive renovations to host … well, more heartbreak for Brazilians in the 2014 World Cup.

Brazilian forward Ademir Marques de Menezes (center) scores during a 7-1 win over Sweden in the 1950 World Cup at Maracanã stadium, in Rio de Janeiro. The stadium’s condition more than six decades later is substantially less glorious than in this moment.

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Brazilian forward Ademir Marques de Menezes (center) scores during a 7-1 win over Sweden in the 1950 World Cup at Maracanã stadium, in Rio de Janeiro. The stadium’s condition more than six decades later is substantially less glorious than in this moment.

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Now the iconic soccer stadium, which also hosted Brazilians’ 2016 Olympic redemption, is suffering a heartbreak of a different kind: Rio’s soccer authority says Maracanã has fallen into a state of abandonment and disrepair.

“The worries over the present and the future of the stadium are only increasing,” the Rio de Janeiro Football Federation said in a statement, according to multiple media outlets.

Maracanã Stadium’s turf is dry, worn and filled with ruts and holes. Those soccer clubs that call the stadium home plan to meet and discuss how to bring Maracanã up to game-worthy shape. The question is, who will pay for the repairs?

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Maracanã Stadium’s turf is dry, worn and filled with ruts and holes. Those soccer clubs that call the stadium home plan to meet and discuss how to bring Maracanã up to game-worthy shape. The question is, who will pay for the repairs?

Nacho Doce/Reuters

Since its last official use late last year, windows have been smashed, copper wiring stolen from the walls, seats torn out of their places entirely. Brazilian newspaper O Globo reports that looters even took off with a bust of journalist Mário Filho, for whom the stadium was given its official name — Estádio Jornalista Mário Filho.

The playing field itself has been left to the ravages of time and theft, leaving it a dried-out, rut-filled shadow of its Olympic self.

Given the billions of dollars the country spent on its preparations for the World Cup and the Olympics — and the massive protests that spending elicited — the neglect of Maracanã, its jewel, has raised eyebrows among Brazilian soccer officials.

But so far, few hands have been raised to fix the situation.

Neither Maracanã SA, the firm currently under contract for the stadium’s upkeep, nor the Rio state government accept responsibility for the post-Olympic cleanup and administration of Maracanã, according to O Globo. Both groups are said to blame the Rio 2016 Organizing Committee for having left the stadium in disrepair after the Summer Games.

In this shot taken Thursday, Maracanã’s seating is a little, well, less than at capacity. Chairs have been ripped from their places — but that’s not the only problem that has befallen the stadium since its star turn on the world stage.

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In this shot taken Thursday, Maracanã’s seating is a little, well, less than at capacity. Chairs have been ripped from their places — but that’s not the only problem that has befallen the stadium since its star turn on the world stage.

Nacho Doce/Reuters

So the city’s four major soccer clubs that regularly make use of the stadium, such as Flamengo, have begun looking at alternatives to Maracanã for their upcoming games. Reuters reports the teams plan to meet with the football federation on Tuesday.

But for federation President Ruben Lopes, the matter might be moot unless something significant changes.

“If there is not an immediate government intervention to stop the looting and the destruction of the Maracanã then it might not even be worth meeting on the 17th,” Ruben Lopes said, according to the wire service.

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