The most famous football ground in Brazil, the Maracana provided the last stop of May’s Host Cities tour on Wednesday.
With exactly one month to go before the start of the FIFA Confederations Cup Brazil 2013, the stadium received a visit from a delegation formed by FIFA Secretary General Jérôme Valcke, Brazilian Minister of Sport Aldo Rebelo and former Brazil players Bebeto and Ronaldo, who both sit on the Management Board of the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil™ Organising Committee (LOC), and are also ambassadors for the tournament.
Welcomed by the Chief of Staff of the State of Rio de Janeiro, Regis Fichtner, and Rio City Council’s Head of Major Events, Leonardo Maciel, the delegation toured the stadium’s dressing rooms, hospitality area and a section of one of the stands before heading down to the pitch.
There they made a symbolic handover of a pair of 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil tickets to two workers who helped refurbish the new-look Maracana. Workers involved in the construction of the 12 stadiums to be used at Brazil 2014 will be given tickets for a game to be held in their respective cities.
For Brazil legends Bebeto and Ronaldo it was not their first time on the new pitch at the Maracana, the duo having both taken part in last month’s reopening of the stadium, which will host the final of the FIFA Confederations Cup Brazil 2013 on 30 June and the Final of Brazil 2014, to be held on 15 July next year.
Following their visit, the delegation gave a press conference. FIFA.com rounds up their reactions to the all-new Maracana.
FIFA Secretary General Jérôme Valcke:“We want football to be played at its cathedral, at its Mecca, and that’s exactly what we’ve got here, at the Maracana. Congratulations! The work that’s been done here since our last visit is incredible. It’s scarcely believable that people are capable of doing what you’ve done. This is a great venue for the FIFA Confederations Cup Brazil 2013 and for the Final of the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil.”
*On the Maracana at the FIFA Confederations Cup Brazil 2013:
*“Spain, the FIFA World Cup holders, are going to get a surprise when they come here, so you can just imagine what it’s going to be like for Tahiti, who will be playing Spain in their first tournament outside Oceania. And not just in any old stadium, but in the Maracana, in Brazil, the country that’s won the world title five times. I’d love to be in the shoes of one of the Tahiti players.”
Brazilian Minister of Sport Aldo Rebelo:“Being here in the final phase of its refurbishment, we can see that Brazil and Rio de Janeiro have got their Maracana back, a stadium worthy of hosting the FIFA World Cup Final and worthy of the challenge Brazil took on in organising the biggest celebration in world sport.”
LOC Management Board member Bebeto:“The Maracana looks lovely and it’s really great to be back. Ronaldo and I had the chance to play here when the stadium reopened and it’s always good to return. I feel at home.”
LOC Management Board member Ronaldo:“Every time I come to the Maracana it looks even more beautiful than before. We’ve already tried the pitch out, and now we can see that the stadium is also ready for the FIFA Confederations Cup.”