Maracana to keep name unchanged after Rio flirts with Pele tribute

Cristos and maracana

April 8 – Rio de Janeiro’s iconic Maracana stadium won’t be renamed after Pele following a decision by state legislators. The proposal for a name change had been mired in controversy. 

Pele is Brazil’s most famous son and greatest football player ever, but his credentials have proven insufficient to see Rio de Janeiro’s marquee stadium renamed after him. 

The Maracana stadium was named after journalist Mario Filho when it was constructed for the 1950 World Cup and that name will now be maintained following a sway of protest in Rio and across Brazil. Pele played his entire career for Santos before moving to the US to feature for the New York Cosmos.

He has few links to Rio de Janeiro and historians, journalists and the family of Mario Filho attacked the idea of renaming the ground. In the wake of the protests, Rio state legislators backed down on Tuesday.

“I intended to pay tribute to our king of soccer, athlete of the century, the best player of all time,” explained council president André Ceciliano, who had supported the name change. “The truth, the Maracana will be eternally called Maracana.” 

The Maracana was the venue for Brazil’s traumatic 2-1 defeat to Uruguay in the 1950 World Cup. Before the 2014 finals, the stadium received a facelift, reducing the capacity to 78,000. Germany went to win a fourth world crown that summer, defeating Argentina 1-0 in the final. The stadium also hosted the opening and closing ceremony of the 2016 Rio Olympic Games. 

Contact the writer of this story, Samindra Kunti, at moc.l1618090609labto1618090609ofdlr1618090609owedi1618090609sni@o1618090609fni1618090609