24/Apr/2014 - Last News Update: 10:00

Rio Maracana stadium in Brazil to reopen after renovation

Category: Headlines

Published: 27th Apr 2013 14:42:25

Rio's world-famous Maracana stadium reopens on Saturday after nearly three years of renovation to prepare it for the World Cup finals in 2014.

An exhibition match between teams of stars past and present, captained by Ronaldo and Bebeto, is being played before some 30,000 spectators.

However, the reopening follows controversy over delays, costs and the future privatisation of the site.

The renovation has been completed four months behind schedule.

Days before the test event, seats were still being installed and pavements laid near the venue.

Spectators at the stadium will include thousands of the construction workers involved in the project, Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff and Rio de Janeiro's Mayor Eduardo Paes.

Only a third of the stands are being used at the venue, which will soon have a capacity of 80,000.

According to the Brazilian government's World Cup website, 32 players and former players have said they will take part in the match, including nine Brazilian World Cup winners.

Aldair, Zetti, Jorginho, Mauro Silva, Ricardo Rocha and Edilson are among those said to have confirmed.

The Rio de Janeiro state government said in a statement: "The objective of a test match is to check the teams, facilities and infrastructure so that eventual adjustments can be made to ensure everything runs smoothly when Maracana is inaugurated."

The first major international test of the facility will be a friendly between Brazil and England on 2 June before the Confederations Cup begins two weeks later.

There has been criticism of the cost of the renovation - nearly $500m (£320m) - because the stadium has already seen a number of upgrades.

A Brazilian indigenous group, the Aldeia Maracana (or Maracana tribe), have also protested at the site against their eviction from a former indigenous museum, built in 1862.

Plans to privatise the Maracana have run into controversy too, with demonstrations against the demolition of local facilities to make way for an arena with bars, restaurants and shops.

Critics say privatisation will return much less to the government than it invested in the project.

The Maracana is seen as an iconic venue. Nearly 200,000 people watched the 1950 World Cup final between Brazil and Uruguay - the largest crowd ever to have watched a football match at a stadium.

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BBC News, 2013. Rio Maracana stadium in Brazil to reopen after renovation [Online] (Updated 27th Apr 2013)
Available at: http://www.ukwirednews.com/news/1480899/Rio-Maracana-stadium-in-Brazil-to-reopen-after-renovation [Accessed 24th Apr 2014]

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