Rio De Janeiro's Maracanã Stadium Reopens For Exhibition Despite Not Being Completed
Rio de Janeiro's Maracanã stadium "has re-opened with an exhibition match despite not being fully finished," according to Pedro Fonseca of REUTERS. Only two entrances "were complete, some seats still missing and the area around the stadium resembled a building site" as the arena was re-inaugurated on Saturday with a match between teams led by former Brazil strikers Ronaldo and Bebeto.The Maracanã is the fourth of the 12 World Cup stadiums to be opened. Ronaldo said, "Brazil is going to give a big lesson to the world and to those which didn't think it would be possible to hold this World Cup and Confederations Cup. It was a last-minute thing but that's how it goes. We are happy with the result. The pitch is sensational. The stands are beautiful, so are the internal facilities, everything is really good" (REUTERS, 4/28).
PEACEFUL PROTESTS: In London, John Drayton reported the construction workers who helped upgrade the stadium and their families "were treated to the first action in the 'new' Maracanã as Friends of Ronaldo and Friends of Bebeto played an exhibition match." Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff, former President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva and "other big name guests were among the 30,000 who attended the inauguration." However, "not everyone was sharing in the spirit of the occasion." A few hundred "held a peaceful protest" against the stadium's privatization plan, saying that it will give the government "less money that it invested in the venue and will lead to the demolition of an indigenous museum, a public school and some athletics facilities in the area" (DAILY MAIL, 4/28).
MARKING THE CALENDAR: The AFP reported Saturday's game "was the first of three tests in the renovated arena" before the Confederations Cup begins in Brasilia on June 15. The first Confederations Cup game in Rio will be a Mexico-Italy game on June 16. Before then, a second test is scheduled for May 15 with 50% capacity, to be followed by "the official inauguration of the venue on June 2 with a Brazil-England friendly" (AFP, 4/28).