I remember reading about this venue, The Maracanã Stadium in ‘World Soccer’ magazine when I was younger. It is one of the most iconic sports venues in the world, up alongside Madison Square Garden, Wembley and the Nou Camp. Upgrades were recently completed in time for this years World Cup and the Olympics in 2 years, it now holds 78,000 spectators. In 1950 it had the 199,854 fans watched the World Cup final between Brazil and Uruguay (which the latter won 2-1).
Getting there was easy – one change on the metro from Copacabana, and getting a ticket (90 Reals – £25) was simple with English speaking assistants at the ticket booths. After shooting Stadium exteriors in the late afternoon light I went for a couple of beers amongst the Botafogo fans, as the evening kick-off time approached.
As the teams entered the arena the atmosphere was electric, unlike anything I’ve heard at English grounds, so much noise. The away, Chilean side (Unión Española of Santiago) scored the only goal of the game, meaning they finished top of their group, and Botafogo 2nd. Both sides would go through to the next round of the Libertadores Cup (South American version of the Champions League).
Did anyone remember Unión Española from earlier in my trip?!