Iconic Maracana stadium declared unsafe, Brazil-England friendly scrapped

An estimated 74,000 people had been expected to watch Sunday's game between hosts Brazil and England but a judge has cancelled the friendly citing safety concerns.

Updated: May 31, 2013 08:49 IST
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Rio de Janeiro: A Brazilian judge has canceled Sunday's friendly game between Brazil and England in Rio's iconic Maracana stadium, citing safety concerns at the recently renovated facility.

The O Estado de Sao Paulo daily on Thursday quoted court sources as saying a Rio judge acted following a request from state prosecutors, who said Maracana did not "meet the minimum necessary conditions to host games or events".

Calls to the court for confirmation of the report were unanswered. Thursday is a public holiday in Brazil.

The Rio state government however said in a statement that "all safety requirements were met," attributing the problem to a bureaucratic glitch.

The daily said the Brazilian Football Confederation was collecting all the documents demanded by the judges so that the suspension can be reversed.

An estimated 74,000 people had been expected to watch Sunday's game, which was to have been the second test for the stadium inaugurated on April 27 after a multi-million-dollar 30-month renovation.

The friendly was to have served as preparation for the Brazilian national squad ahead of the Confederations Cup in the country from June 15 to 30.

The Maracana stadium will host four Confederations Cup matches as well as seven World Cup games next year, including the finals of both tournaments. In 2016, it will host the opening ceremony of the Summer Olympics.

England are already in Brazil having flown on a private jet straight after Wednesday night's friendly draw in Ireland.

Since 2007, the Rio state government has invested an estimated $430 million in the Maracana renovations, which ultimately will comprise a multi-purpose arena featuring bars, restaurants and shops.

However, the redevelopment has met with controversy in some quarters, with protesters taking aim at the plan to privatize the venue.

Two consortiums are competing for a 35-year lease to operate the Maracana and its surroundings.

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