The Estádio do Maracanã (Maracanã Stadium) is the Cathedral of Futbol Religion in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. The stadium’s name is derived from the Maracanã River, whose point of origin is in the jungle covered hills to the west of the stadium. It was opened in 1950 to host the FIFA World Cup, in which Brazil were beaten 2–1 by Uruguay in the deciding game. That Brazil’s loss at Maracanã Stadium is considered to be the biggest upset in football and has gone down in history as the “Maracanazo”. Being the world’s largest stadium by capacity (200,000) when it was inaugurated, the stadium currently seats 78,838 spectators, making it the largest stadium in Brazil and in South America. The “Maraca” has always been a temple of emotions and many joys. In 1969, it has hosted the largest audience in the history of soccer during Brazil-Paraguay game – 200,000 people (!). Pelé has scored here his thousandth goal. In addition to spectacular football games and tournaments, many unforgettable shows have been hosted here, like Frank Sinatra, Madonna, and the Rolling Stones.
I was lucky to be able to purchase a ticket for Belgium v Russia World Cup match played on Maracana Stadium on June 22nd. 73,819 football fans, mostly wearing red and tricolor outfits, had come to the arena to support their teams. The Belgian-Russian “costume party” was almost as good as Brazilian Carnival. So much fun and joy! In the end, the Belgian Red Devils celebrated ‘1:0’-victory of their national team, the Russians got a taste of “Maracanazo” experience.
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