Brazil v England suspended over Maracana safety concerns
BRAZIL V ENGLAND
- Venue: Maracana Stadium
- Date: Sunday, 2 June
- Kick-off: 20:00 BST
Coverage: Commentary on BBC Radio 5 live and text commentary on BBC Sport website
England’s friendly with Brazil in Rio de Janeiro on Sunday has been suspended over safety concerns at the recently renovated Maracana stadium.
A court order on Thursday ruled that the game cannot go ahead.
The judicial decision suspending the England v Brazil game will be subject to appeal – legal decisions in Brazil are torturous, often challenged. The Brazilian Football Federation says all safety requirements have been met and this information will be sent to the judge showing the suspension is wrong.
But senior officials at the Football Association have told BBC Sport they have received assurances from their Brazilian counterparts that the fixture will be played as scheduled.
The Rio de Janeiro government has appealed against the court’s decision.
“All safety requirements for the friendly between Brazil and England have been complied with and, because of a bureaucratic failure, the appraisal from the public ministry that proves the compliance with the rules on safety at the Maracana have not been sent to Suderj,” the Rio government said in a statement.
Suderj is a division of the Rio de Janeiro state authority which is responsible for administrative issues associated with major sports venues.
The judge who passed the court order, Justice Adriana Costa dos Santos, has made clear that the suspension can be lifted as late as Saturday providing the concerns are addressed.
The iconic 78,000-seat Maracana reopened in April after nearly three years of work updating it for the 2014 World Cup finals.
First built in 1950 for the World Cup in Brazil, the Maracana was once the largest stadium in the world, holding a crowd of around 200,000.
It has undergone a number of renovations, the most recent of which – to prepare it for the 2014 World Cup finals – has cost more than £320m.
Even though the work was completed four months behind schedule, local newspapersstill reported 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.
The Jornal do Brasil reported at the time that visitors “needed patience to deal with the many problems” at the venue, arising from the rush to complete it.
It highlighted uneven flooring with small gaps and holes, flooding in the VIP area and a dysfunctional lift, and said some staff had tried to prevent journalists taking pictures of the affected areas.
Rio’s state prosecutors say there are dangerous materials at venue, including rocks, pieces of metal and pavement, and that these could pose a threat to the public.
“The stadium is not yet safe to hold a full house of paying public,” said South American football writer Tim Vickery, who is based in Rio.
“The court decision could be overturned, and there will be immense pressure to overturn it because this is a huge, huge embarrassment to Brazilian authorities with the whole world watching.”
England’s visit is scheduled to be the first major international test of the facility, with the Confederations Cup beginning two weeks later.
Roy Hodgson’s squad have already arrived in Brazil ahead of what is scheduled to be England’s first game at the Maracana since 1984.