Associated Press

Maracana stadium falls into further disrepair after power shut off

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Iconic Brazilian soccer stadium Estadio do Maracanã in Rio de Janeiro has reached a new level of disrepair after its power was shut off, according to a statement by Brazilian power company Light.

“Light cut the power to the Maracana this morning,” the statement said. “The bills are behind since October.”

According to a report by Reuters, the stadium is nearly $1 million behind on bills, with $500,000 of that owed by the Rio Olympics organizers and the other half coming from the stadium’s ownership consortium. Photos from earlier in January show the field riddled with dead grass, stray cats roaming the property, and missing chairs in the stands.

Construction company Odebrecht which heads the Maracanã ownership consortium has deflected responsibility of the payments to the Rio government. Meanwhile, the government has declared a “financial calamity,” unable to pay important state workers such as teachers, medical personnel, and pension payments.

The Maracanaã was built in 1950 and has hosted two World Cup finals, as well as being the site for numerous Brazilian league matches throughout the years. It is the largest stadium in Brazil, and the second-largest in South America.

Argentina will be fueled by Brazil fans’ antagonism

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This World Cup didn’t quite go as the dreamers had hoped. They’d wanted a final between two of South America’s most successful sides, with Argentina meeting Brazil in Rio de Janeiro. Brazil, of course, were meant to triumph, with Neymar lifting the Seleção to their sixth World Cup title.

Instead, Brazil were knocked out in deeply unceremonious fashion, with Germany thumping them 7-1 in the semifinal. To make matters worse, now one of their biggest rivals, Argentina, will be playing in the final.

Local supporters have spent matches backing whoever Argentina were up against. Argentina, in turn, hung banners in Sao Paolo during their semifinal victory, mocking the seven goals Brazil allowed as they exited the tournament. For the albiceleste, having Lionel Messi host the World Cup in the storied Maracanã would make their third title all the more sweet.

Manchester City defender Pablo Zabaleta confirmed his team’s feelings toward Brazil, saying, “It’s special for us to play in this country, especially as Brazilian fans have been against Argentina at this World Cup.”

Perhaps more significantly, Zabaleta also alluded to the fact that the Brazil fans’ antagonism may actually help lift Argentina to victory, explaining, “Sometimes, if you have all the people against you, you feel even stronger.”

The South American side go into Sunday’s final as the underdogs, requiring penalties to get past Netherlands. You can’t help but think they’ll be nervous, remembering Germany’s demolition of Brazil. But perhaps when those boos ring out from the crowd in Rio, Argentina will dig deep to find the means to win.

That, or they’ll simply make sure Messi gets the ball.

England vs. Brazil will go ahead in Rio

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Pandemonium. Confusion. Bemusement.

Call it what you will. That was all going on in Rio de Janiero last night.

England and Brazil were set to square off at the newly renovated Maracana Stadium this weekend, one of world soccer’s iconic venues.

But all the looked in jeopardy on Thursday, as a court order suspended the game amid safety fears.

But this morning, a judge overturned the decision citing that there was a “bureaucratic flaw” after paperwork signing off the renovation work at the stadium had not been sent to the appropriate local authorities.

The game will go ahead. Phew.
Panic over. However with pictures of flooding outside the stadium, a heavy presence from construction workers and plenty of work still to be done, should this showpiece friendly really go ahead?

It will be the first-time England have played at the Maracana since ’84, when Liverpool winger John Barnes wrote himself into English folklore with a mazy run across the pitch before slotting home. Here it is BTW.

The Maracana has fallen into disrepair throughout recent times, with the conditions worsening since Barnes scored that wonder goal in those short-shorts. But the extensive renovation work will see it become the jewel in the crown of Brazil 2014.

That was the plan, anyway.

However reports of uneven flooring with small gaps and holes, flooding across a VIP area and an elevator that doesn’t work, has led to officials trying to stop journalists taking pictures of the famous stadium.

With the game going ahead on Sunday, it is sure to be an incredible occasion between two of world soccer’s biggest rivals. But question marks are already lingering as to whether or not Brazil is ready to host the Confederations Cup later this summer.

Better get a shift on with that drill, lads.

England – Brazil friendly in Rio suspended due to unsafe conditions


According to the Associated Press, Sunday’s friendly between Brazil and England in Rio de Janeiro is off due to unsafe conditions of the Maracana stadium where the event was supposed to be held.

However, conflicting reports are surfacing, with Sky News saying word from FIFA and the English FA is the match will take place.

The Associated Press report describes a disastrous situation for Brazil with that will only raise questions whether the Brazilian government and the city of Rio are equipped to handle such a large event come next year’s World Cup.

Apparently judge Adriana Costa dos Santos has suspended the event due to unsafe conditions involving renovations to the stadium for the Confederations Cup and World Cup. The Brazilian government countered, saying the stadium is safe but paperwork to prove it was not delivered due to a “bureaucratic error.”

It remains to be seen whether the friendly will actually go on as planned, but either way this kind of publicity doesn’t bode well for the location of the 2014 World Cup.

The Maracanã, now with more flooding

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The Atlantic is the latest publication to publish a “Will Brazil be ready?” story. The piece, written by Chris Feliciano Arnold, focuses on the centerpiece of the 2014 World Cup and the 2016 Olympic Games, the Maracanã.

The famous stadium is in the middle of a massive refurbishment that will bring it up to FIFA’s exacting standards of style, safety, and seats for chubby people. It’s not exactly going so well.

“We’re not worried, we’re just a bit anxious,” FIFA Secretary General Jérôme Valcke said after a visit on March 7. “All we are concerned about is doing a good job. We don’t have a Plan B.”

A 5,500-person crew(!) is working night and day to get the place ready for the Confederations Cup, which begins in less than 100 days. The smaller tournament will give Brazilian officials an opportunity to work out all the kinks in the system, supposedly.

Now, about those delays: It’s always fun to place blame on the ones doing the work, but part of the issue isn’t their fault. To the e-pages of the Atlantic:

The project suffered major delays in 2011 when structural weakness in the stadium’s iconic concrete dome forced engineers back to the drawing board to design a membrane roof structure. The new design, featuring solar panels and a wastewater draining system, pushed back the original December 2012 deadline to February—and now again to May. While the World Cup is still more than a year away, FIFA has repeatedly warned Brazil that it needs the Maracanã delivered no later than May 28th, in time for test events necessary to work out the kinks that can only be solved during live matches. There is no further room for error.

And look, we’ve been over this before. Big events like the World Cup are always behind schedule. They always have issues with the labor unions, so when the Heavy Construction Workers Union strikes and demands more money, it’s not a surprise.

But this does seem like we are getting down to it, no? A few weeks ago, work was hampered by flooding. Flooding! And while I don’t really believe FIFA absolutely needs the Maracanã to be done by May 28th and I don’t believe Mr. Valcke that there is no Plan B, it is a little concerning to keep reading stories like this that seem to be getting worse rather than better. I’m sure it will all come together okay in the end, but it’s not going to be pretty.