Named after celebrated journalist Mario Filho, the Maracanã Stadium is Rio’s most famous soccer venue.
Brazil is home to some of the world’s greatest athletes—think Ronaldo, Ronaldinho, Zico and Pelé, to name a few. Soccer is particularly important in Brazil, and Rio is no exception. You’ll find soccer everywhere in Rio: barefoot games on the beach, pick-up matches across the city, rival clubs duking it out in local arenas and, of course, international competitions in Maracanã Stadium. Sport options in Rio de Janeiro aren’t limited to soccer, however—the area is one of the most active in the world. Rio hosted the 2007 Pan American Games, attesting to the importance of sports in Cariocan culture. Rio is making headlines in the sports world by hosting both the 2016 Summer Olympics and many events of the 2014 FIFA World Cup. With all the buzz surrounding Rio’s sports scene, check out some options for catching a game while you’re in town.
Named after celebrated journalist Mario Filho – and officially named Estádio Jornalista Mario Filho – the Maracanã Stadium is Rio’s most famous soccer venue. It was constructed to house the 1950 World Cup Games, which the Brazilian team infamously lost to Uruguay in the final round. In preparation of the upcoming World Cup games and Summer Olympics the stadium is getting a major renovation: the roof will be extended, bleachers will be rearranged and new parking structures will be added.
Many tourism agencies offer tickets to tour the stadium on non-game days. Be sure to call ahead, however—the renovations are slated to end in late December 2012, and tours will resume after the construction.
2014 World Cup
Brazil has won five World Cup championship games, more than any other country since the tournament began in 1930, and most recently in 2002, and has been chosen to host the 2014 FIFA World Cup. Rio’s iconic Maracanã stadium will host the final game the tournament. If you aren’t able to attend any games in Rio, consider venturing to one of the other 11 Brazilian cities hosting matches— closest to Rio are Belo Horizonte (a frontrunner to host the opening celebrations) and São Paulo.
Rio is the first South American city to host the Olympics and will do so in summer 2016. The opening and closing ceremonies will be held in Maracanã stadium, Rio is making a huge renovation effort (about $14.4 billion) to get the city ready for the games. Although securing tickets for the actual events will be tricky, prepare for an electric experience if you do manage to catch a match. Rio is already planning an Olympics Live initiative to broadcast certain events around the world, so even if you’re not in Rio you can enjoy a live view of the games and celebrate along with Carioca spectators.
Whether you’re watching a soccer game between two local clubs or catching the final round of Olympic competition, sporting events in Rio are hugely popular and important to the local and international communities alike. Cariocas are enthusiastic and loyal spectators, so you’ll be sure to have an unforgettable sport-watching experience in Rio.