Sat, Jun 01, 2013 - Page 18 News List

Brazil-England friendly back on after court ruling

AFP, RIO DE JANEIRO

A photograph taken on May 15 shows a general view of the Maracana Stadium in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

Photo: AFP

A court on Thursday overruled a Brazilian judge’s order canceling tomorrow’s international friendly between Brazil and England at Rio de Janeiro’s Maracana Stadium, saying safety concerns at the recently renovated facility were unfounded.

The O Estado de Sao Paulo daily on Thursday quoted court sources as saying the judge who earlier canceled the match had acted on a request from state prosecutors.

They had said that there was no evidence Maracana met “the minimum necessary conditions to host games or events,” but the authorities in Rio appealed that ruling before a duty judge.

They argued that because of a “bureaucratic mistake” the safety report had not been delivered to the relevant official.

The judge duly overturned the earlier ruling, clearing the way for the game to go ahead.

An estimated 74,000 people are expected to attend tomorrow’s match, the second test for the stadium inaugurated on April 27 following a multimillion-dollar 30-month renovation.

The friendly is to serve as preparation for Brazil ahead of the FIFA Confederations Cup in the country from June 15 to June 30.

The Maracana is hosting four Confederations Cup matches, as well as seven World Cup games next year, including the finals of both tournaments. In 2016, it will host the opening ceremony of the Olympic Games.

England are already in Brazil having flown on a private jet straight after Wednesday night’s friendly draw against the Republic of Ireland at Wembley in London.

Since 2007, the Rio de Janeiro state government has invested an estimated US$430 million in the Maracana renovations, which ultimately will comprise a multi-purpose arena featuring bars, restaurants and shops.

However, the redevelopment has met with controversy in some quarters, with protesters taking aim at the plan to privatize the venue.

Two consortiums are competing for a 35-year lease to operate the Maracana and its surroundings.

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