Maracanã Stadium

Rio de Janeiro, Brazil | C.1950

Photo Credit: Charlotte Carles

While its official name is Estadio Jornalista Mario Filho, this Rio de Janeiro landmark is better known by its nickname, Maracanã Stadium. Opened in 1950, the Stadium is the largest in Brazil, with the ability to hold around 80,000 spectators. It has hosted numerous club games, FIFA World Cups, concerts, and the 2016 Summer Olympic Games.

After Brazil’s government won the right to host the 1950 FIFA World Cup, they sought to build a brand new stadium. Mayor Angelo Mendes de Morais chose to construct the new venue in the city’s North Zone, however, he met resistance from Congressman Carlos Lacerda. Despite the opposition, the Mayor found support in journalist Mario Filho, who is credited with popularizing football in Rio de Janeiro.

With Filho’s support, Mendes de Morais was able to move construction forward and the venue was later named for Filho. Yet, its popular name, Maracanã Stadium, is tied closely to the its surroundings – derived from the nearby Maracanã River whose etymology can be traced to an indigenous word for a type of parrot in the region.

The 1950 World Cup opened to major fanfare. A record-breaking 199,854 spectators filled the stadium’s seats to watch the tournament. In the deciding match, Uruguay took home the victory with 2-1 win over Brazil. In the years to come, the Stadium would go on to host countless concerts, football games, and international tournaments.

Decades later, the Stadium found itself slated to host both the 2014 World Cup and the 2016 Olympic games, and was in need of a major redevelopment. The redesign involved replacing the stadium’s two-tier configuration for a one-tier stadium bowl. New seating was also installed bearing the colors yellow, blue, and white, which combined with the green field, form Brazil’s national colors.

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