Rio de Janeiro's famous Maracaná stadium will host the final of the 2014 World Cup in Brazil, FIFA secretary general Jerome Valcke indicated Thursday, pending formal ratification of the decision at FIFA executive committee meeting in October.
The giant arena is famous for having hosted the deciding match of the World Cup in 1950, when Brazil was stunned 2-1 by Uruguay. The final is already certain, even though we think that lots of other cities could have hosted this match, said Valcke.
This stadium already hosted the final 61 years ago. What we have to decide now is where the semi-finals and the opening match will take place. Following Valcke's comments, FIFA stressed the decision was not yet official.
No official decision has been taken, FIFA communications director Nicolas Maingot told reporters. The stadium was built as the centrepiece of the 1950 tournament, which saw some 200,000 people cram in to see Brazil suffer a shock final loss to Uruguay.
Since then, Brazilians refer to such shock defeats as a 'Maracanazo'.
It was only in 1958, inspired by a teenage Pele in Sweden, that Brazil lifted the first of their record five World Cup crowns.
The Maracana was the scene for Pele's 1000th career goal, a penalty, for Brazilian outfit Santos against Vasco de Gama on 19 November 1969.
He also netted his first goal for the national side at the venue, in a 2-1 loss to Argentina in July, 1957. The race to get 12 venues ready for three years time is posing a monumental logistical challenge for Brazil.
In particular, the process of giving the Maracana in downtown Rio a massive facelift has been a daily topic of conversation among fans as the bill has risen inexorably, though the official estimate is some 700 million dollars.
Vying with Rio for the honour of hosting the trophy match were Sao Paulo, Brasilia, Belo Horizonte and Salvador. The World Cup will open on June 12, 2014 and end on July 13.