Rio de Janeiro’s state legislators on Monday renamed the world-famous Maracanã stadium after Brazilian football legend, Pelé.
The officials voted in favour of the change on 9 March, in a move that has stirred controversy among football fans.
The iconic ground was originally named “Municipal Stadium,” but was later changed to “Journalist Mario Filho Stadium” after the death of Mario Filho, who is considered a pioneer in sports journalism in Brazil.
He was also part of a group that advocated for the stadium’s construction for the 1950 football World Cup.
Filho’s grandson, Mario Neto says he acknowledges the importance of Pelé in Brazilian football culture but said that the stadium’s name should remain as it is.
Filho used his sports newspaper “Jornal dos Sports” to coordinate a successful campaign to convince Rio de Janeiro’s citizens that the stadium had to be constructed nearer to the city centre instead of an original plan for it to be built in a neighbourhood further away.
The journalist also wanted to increase the seating capacity to create the “biggest stadium in the world.”
Rio de Janeiro state Governor Claudio Castro has 15 days to approve or disapprove the stadium name change.
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