Maracanã, the largest stadium of the world

Written by Stades.mythiques , 17.08.2004

The largest, the most legendary, the main stadium of the greatest nation of football. No superlative seems strong enough to qualify Maracanã, the heart of Brazil, the symbol of Flamengo's victories, the greatest stadium of the world.

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The history of Maracanã is, initially, the history of the World cup of 1950. Indeed, the competition, started again by Jules Rimet in 1946 after a total stop of the activities of FIFA during the second World war, was organized that year in Brazil, the only applicant country to the event, in a bloodthirsty world. In that occasion, the Brazilian State decided to construct a gigantic stadium, imagined by the architects Raphaël Galvão and Pedro Paulo Bernardes Bastos, the world’s largest stadium, and for a long time, considered capable to accomodate 200.000 people.
Actually, the exact maximum capacity is unknown. Brazil asserts to be more than 200.000, the Guinness Book allots 180.000 of them, others quote approximately 155.000. The first stone of the stadium was placed on August 2, 1948, when Maracanã stadium was born. Five weeks before the beginning of the competition, FIFA has dispatched on the spot Doctor Ottorino Barassi, president of the Italian Federation of football and the old organizer of the World Italian of 1934, so that everything could get ready, in particular the stadium, in time. On June 16, 1950, the inaugural match was between the young selections of São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro, and the final result was 3-1 for São Paulo. It was Didi who scored the first goal of the history of the Rio stadium, a work in Didi’s manner:
This day, Maracanã was still being built, just as at the time of the opening of the World championship, the platform of press was not ready, and the toilets were insufficient, but this didn’t matter. The essencial was ready, the major part of the stadium was finished (the rest would wait fifteen years to be ready), the competition could start.

Because of the disorganization of the national selections in the post-war period, only thirteen teams were qualified. The USSR refused to take part in the competition for political reasons, and the team of France, invited to replace the Soviet team, considered themselves too fragile to face again this type of test. India also declined the invitation after the refusal of FIFA to the request for their team to play with naked feet. Despite everything, there was still a positive point: for the first time, the British nation agreed to take part in the eliminating heats of the competition, at the same time as they were being integrated to FIFA; this way, England had a participation in Brazil. The curiosity of the competition lied in the organization in four unequal groups followed by a mini-championship between the four first teams. The first group included four teams (Brazil, Yugoslavia, Switzerland, Mexico), and the second also included four teams (England, Spain, the United States, Chile), and the third included three teams (Sweden, Paraguay, Italy) and the fourth, only two (Bolivia and Uruguay). The reasons of this distribution were simply financial, Brazil required that a maximum of attractive posters take seat in Maracanã.

Other games has happened: in group 1, Brazil-Mexico (4-0, two goals of Ademir, one of Jair, one of Baltazar, 82.000 spectators) and Brazil-Yugoslavia (2-0, goals of Ademir and Zizinho, in front of 142.000 people); and in group 2, England-Chile (2-0, 30.000 spectators), Spain-Chile (2-0, 16.000 people) and Spain-England (1-0, 74.000 spectators). Brazil, which also scored 2-2 against Switzerland (which was an authentic revelation) in São Paulo, was qualified for the following matches. The popular enthusiasm was huge, and the government declared even non-working days when Brazil was playing. The final group was formed by Brazil, Spain, Sweden and Uruguay (qualified after their only match of the round, against Bolivia, a victory 8-0!). We can’t forget about the elimination of the English team, who rub for the first time their pride of inventors of football to the reality of an international competition, and saw themselves beaten by the United States (1-0) and Spain (1-0). Another country remembered by the absence of hightlight: Italy, beaten in its group by Sweden.

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