Maracana fiasco raises Brazil World Cup and Olympic fears

England friendly match in Rio suspended by judge over stadium safety concerns but then reinstated

(Image credit: 2013 AFP)

ENGLAND'S friendly against Brazil in Rio's iconic Maracana stadium will go ahead on Sunday despite a problem over safety certificates that led to a court order suspending the game on Thursday night.

The embarrassing mix-up was the result of a "bureaucratic failure" according to the state government, which admitted it had failed to present the right documents to Judge Adriana Costa dos Santos, who then called off the fixture.

The judge later reversed her ruling after she was presented with a report that showed the stadium did comply with safety guidelines, but the Daily Telegraph described the situation as "a shambles".

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The Maracana, which was once the biggest stadium in the world with a capacity of 200,000, reopened as an all-seater venue for just 79,000 people last month after being closed for refurbishment for almost three years. It was the second rebuilding exercise at the ground this century.

However, the BBC noted that the work finished four months late and local media reported ongoing problems with the venue.

"Days before the first test event at the stadium on 27 April – a friendly featuring former Brazil players – seats were still being installed and pavements laid near the venue," it revealed. There have been reports of "uneven flooring with small gaps and holes, flooding in the VIP area and a dysfunctional lift," while there are said to be loose rocks, stones and pieces of metal all round the venue.

"Building work was in progress yesterday at the stadium and turnstiles were being installed," claimed The Times.

The allegations and confusion over Sunday night's game only serve to heighten concerns over Brazil's preparations for next year's World Cup and the Olympics in 2016.

Earlier this year the Joao Havelange stadium, which will host the athletics at the Olympics and was being used as Rio's main football venue while the Maracana was being refurbished, was shut down indefinitely because of problems with the roof. It only opened in 2007.

The Guardian said that Fifa was "incensed" by the problems. "The quality of design and construction at several venues has been shoddy," claimed the paper, adding that the problems at the Maracana proved that "the nation blessed with the world's most successful football team is also cursed by some of the worst corruption and bureaucracy".

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