The Maracana Stadium is one of the world’s most famous stadiums. It has the pedigree of already hosting a World Cup Final when Brazil and Uruguay faced off in the 1950 final. It can also boast the biggest crowd ever at a football match when nearly 200,000 people watched the afore mentioned final. It would be a major surprise if the final was not held in at the famous venue and it would place it alongside the Azteca Stadium in Mexico city as the only stadium to host two finals.
The Maracana was completed in 1950 and was the centre piece for the 1950 tournament despite not being entirely finished. It is the eleventh largest stadium in the world and the largest in South America. The famous ground is owned by the Rio de Janeiro State Government and is the home ground of Fluminese and Flamengo, arguably the biggest derby match in Brazil. The opening match at the stadium was contested by Rio de Janeiro All-Stars and Sao Paulo All-Stars with the home side winning 3-1. In 1969, an astonishing 177,656 people turned up to see a Fla-Flu derby, which must be a local derby record crowd. The Maracana has hosted some memorable events post the 1950 World Cup Final. It was at this stadium that Pele scored his 1000th professional goal in front of 125,000 people and in 1989 Zico scored his 333rd Maracana goal whilst playing for Flamengo. The stadium has fond memories for England football supporters too. It was at the Maracana where John Barnes waltzed through the Brazil side to score a Brazilian style goal and give England a one nil win.
In 1992 a tragic accident occurred at the stadium and 50 people lost their lives. The stadium was closed and converted to an all-seater stadium which massively reduced its capacity and between 2005 and 2006 the stadium underwent further renovations to bring it up to standard.
In addition to high profile football matches, the famous old stadium has also hosted high profile music events, seen the Harlem Globetrotters strut their stuff and had a visit from the Pope.
RENOVATION PROGRESS TILL MARCH 2011