Sunday, 28 April 2013

Parties and protests as Brazil's iconic Maracana re-opens with legends match featuring Ronaldo and Bebeto.

Brazil's iconic Maracana Stadium re-opened after nearly three years of renovations last night, offering the world a first glimpse at the arena that will host the 2014 World Cup final and the 2016 Olympic opening ceremony. The construction workers who helped upgrade the famous stadium and their families were treated to the first action in the 'new' Maracana 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.


'Temple of Football': The renovated Maracana Stadium in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil re-opened last night as two teams of Brazilian legends, led by Ronaldo and Bebeto, played each other
Honour: Welder Antonio Pereira joined Brazil legend Ronaldo in a ceremonial kick-off in front of a 30,000 crowd made up largely of the stadium's construction workers and their families

First of many: The former Brazilian international Washington had the distinction of scoring the first goal at the 'new' Maracana after three years of upgrades in time for next summer's World Cup and the 2016 Olympiics.
Hallowed turf: Washington kisses the pitch after scoring the opener
Following years of delays, criticisms and protests, it was finally tangible proof that the Maracana will be ready not only for the World Cup finals, but also this summer's Confederations Cup in June

'It looks amazing,' said former Brazilian star Ronaldo. 'I'm happy to see the stadium ready again. The Maracana is a symbol of this country.'

Bebeto, his former Selecao teammate, added: 'I've played at Wembley, Camp Nou, Santiago Bernabeu and other top stadiums, but this is the greatest venue in football, it's very special.'
Spectacular: An aerial image of the stadium is projected onto one of the stands ahead of kick-off

Protest: A few hundred people held a peaceful demonstration against the privatisation of the stadium development, claiming the government will lose money on their investment
Welder Antonio Pereira had the honour of rolling the ball to Ronaldo in a ceremonial kick-off. 'I was moved,' he said. 'It's like being able to enter in the house that you built yourself.'

Ronaldo, who won the World Cup in 1994 and 2002, and is a member of next year's organising committee, told the construction staff they were 'heroes' in a message at half-time.

Legend: Two-time World Cup winner Ronaldo waves to the crowd. Incredibly, he did not score at the Maracana during his professional career.

Still got it: Ronaldo, who scored 62 goals in 98 matches for Brazil, picks a pass during the test match
Pace: Ronaldo skips past Roger during the exhibition match
Veteran: Bebeto, who was captain of the other team, takes on a player during the match
On the ball: The Brazil veteran Junior, who won 70 caps, takes play forward
However, not everyone was sharing in the spirit of the occasion. A few hundred held a peaceful protest against the stadium's privatisation plan, saying 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.

The $500m (£322m) cost of the face-lift, just six years after the last one, also attracted criticism, as did the continual missed deadlines. The stadium was originally scheduled to be completed last December.
Football's coming home: A section of the 30,000-strong crowd, made up almost entirely of construction workers, cheer the action
Colourful: Lasers and lights illuminate the stadium
Meanwhile: Outside the stadium, construction workers were continuing to bring the stadium up to spec before the Confederations Cup in June
Fascinator: This supporter sports some Maracana-themed headgear and a Brazilian flag prior to kick-off                       
Washington, the former Fluminense striker, scored the first goal at the new stadium with a header in the 16th minute, while Ronaldo, who had remarkably never scored at the stadium as a professional, netted later in the game.

The Maracana was once the largest stadium in the world, when 200,000 people watched the 1950 World Cup final between Brazil and Uruguay. It was also where Pele scored his 1,000th career goal in 1969.


  1. woow! so Ronaldo never scored in Maracana

  2. there r ronaldos n ther r RONALDOS #ElPhenomena

  3. omo... i saw Ronaldos goal.. the goal cray

  4. who be this baba now.. he cant be called junior again na. this one na grandpa

  5. Bebeto uv not come to Emirates

  6. Ronaldo the great! A king is always a king & a prince, a prince...with that been said we kno what categories cristiano & de lima fall into. Lol. #swirv!

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