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When the Maracanã was built in Rio de Janeiro -- specifically to host the 1950 World Cup -- "it was considered the greatest soccer stadium in the world," according to Mimi Whitefield of the MIAMI HERALD. In the post-World War II years, football and the grand stadium "were considered powerful forces in unifying the country and bringing the poor into the national fold." With 11 minutes remaining in the final match of the 1950 World Cup, Uruguay’s Alcides Edgardo Ghiggia brushed a shot past the Brazilian goalkeeper and "little Uruguay was up 2-1," which ended up as its margin of victory. Zico, the legendary Brazilian player of the '70s and early '80s, said his father, Jose Antunes Coimbra, was "in the stands" that day in '50. After the loss, "he never returned to Maracanã." This year’s FIFA World Cup final "also will be held in Maracanã." The Maracanã, whose formal name is Estádio Jornalista Mário Filho, will be the scene of six other World Cup games. It "has undergone a head-to-toe renovation." While the Maracanã is ready, "last-minute work on at least three of the 12 World Cup stadiums continues." FIFA Secretary General Jérôme Valcke said, “We are getting there.’’ Because the Maracanã "occupies such a vaunted place in the national psyche, some purists debate whether it should have been tampered with at all." But Zico "isn’t one of them." For him, "the heart and soul of this temple of soccer remain." Zico: “For me, it’s only Maracanã. There’s no old and no new Maracanã. Maracanã is just magic.” During the nearly three-year renovation, the historic facade -- it was named a cultural heritage site by the National Institute of Historic and Artistic Heritage -- "remained the same." But the interior "got a complete remodeling and a new roof made of fiberglass and Teflon that protects 95 percent of the stadium’s seats was added." A snazzy LED-lighting system "can project 110 colors on the roof" (MIAMI HERALD, 6/2).
Tottenham is "growing increasingly frustrated by the length of time it is taking public officials to make a key decision" on its plans to build a new stadium, according to Tom Collomosse of the London EVENING STANDARD. Tottenham hopes to move into a £400M ($670M), 56,000-seat ground in time for the start of the '17-18 season but, in order to make progress, it is "awaiting news from the Department for Communities and Local Government." The club is "involved in a wrangle with a local metalwork business, Archway Sheet Metal Works." It needs to be granted a Compulsory Purchase Order by Secretary of State for DCLG Eric Pickles. If Pickles ruled in Tottenham’s favor, "it would allow relocation terms for the family-run business to be determined." Tottenham believes that there will be a verdict this month but is "perplexed that it has taken such a long time for DCLG to draw its conclusions." The saga "began in April 2013." DCLG said only that "the matter was under consideration, and would give no timescale about a decision" (EVENING STANDARD, 6/3).
Four years after the 2010 World Cup, Soccer City stadium "is pumping, either with the roars of soccer fans or chant of concert-goers, an example of enduring, direct returns accrued by host nation South Africa," according to Mfuneko Toyana of REUTERS. The stadium, which underwent a 1.5B rand facelift for the event, "comfortably pays its own way, according to its website," with fixtures ranging from Soweto football derbies to concerts by the likes of Lady Gaga and U2. However, Soccer City "stands out in another, crucial way." Of the nine other venues built or renovated for the World Cup to the tune of 10B rand -- a quarter of the overall budget -- "all are in the red, unable to attract regular top sporting clashes or international rock stars." The bill for their up-keep "falls on cash-strapped municipalities, a salutary lesson for Brazil, where hundreds of thousands have protested, sometimes violently, against state spending on this year's tournament, which starts on June 12." Brazil's anti-World Cup movement argues that the $11.7B earmarked for Cup-related spending -- three times South Africa's budget, even though only $7B has actually been disbursed -- "would have been better used on hospitals, schools and public transport." Many in South Africa, the continent's wealthiest country but still a middle income country, "feel the same way." A social scientist at Johannesburg's Wits University, Achille Mbembe, said, "If 50 percent of the collective resources deployed around the World Cup were deployed around these critical issues, I think the country would have made a big, big leap forward." The Nelson Mandela Bay stadium in the decaying industrial city of Port Elizabeth "supports the case." Since it opened its doors, "the stadium has attracted only 125,000 visitors every year, only slightly more than the record 94,700 who turned up on one day at Soccer City to watch South African rugby side Amabokoboko play New Zealand" in '10. Its owners declined to reveal annual up-keep costs, which may be as high as 65M rand ($6M), according to two university studies, but they concede that it runs at a loss of 13M ($1.2M) rand a year -- "a bill that the municipality has to pick up" (REUTERS, 6/3).