The Garrincha Stadium in happier times…when it used to attract crowds.
FIFA has just given Brazil another problem – where to put the buses.
The venues for the women’s and men’s football competitions for the Rio 2016 Olympics have been announced. The stadiums are: Mineirão Stadium in Belo Horizonte, Amazônia Arena in Manaus, the Maracanã Stadium and oddly-named Olympic Stadium in Rio de Janeiro, Fonte Nova Arena in Salvador, Corinthians Arena in São Paulo (good luck with the traffic) and – wait for it – Mané Garrincha Stadium in Brasilia.
That’s right, Garrincha Stadium. Or, as it’s now known: Brasilia’s bus depot.
The local Brazilian press has dubbed the stadium a “multi-purpose venue”. 400 buses park there daily to save the city money. The stadium has also hosted techno concerts and
church fêtes car boot sales neo-Nazi rallies the odd football match. Local clubs draw about 5000 fans to their games and don’t use the stadium.
Three government departments have their offices there. (No word on whether or not public servants take the bus to work.) Imagine the lunchtime kickabouts, eh?
Senator Romario, a 1994 World Cup winner and former Adelaide United striker, said: “Seven months after the World Cup we start to see the fate of the World Cup stadiums. The one in Brasilia, that costs €180,000 to maintain per month, is turning into an office!”
The venue’s price tag of €839 million was a little bit over the original budget of €316 million. The Maracanã stadium cost €457 million and seems like a bargain by comparison.
At least the Maracanã sees regular games. So far in 2015 there have been two friendlies played at Garrincha Stadium.
A sad state of affairs for a stadium named after one of Brazilian football’s most extraordinary talents.
With bent legs, a spinal defect and one leg that was shorter than the other, Garrincha became known as one of the best dribblers in world football. He played 50 games for Brazil, but his personal life was riddled with tragedy. He was a prodigious drinker and equally prodigious sire, with at least 14 offspring according to some sources. He died of cirrhosis of the liver aged 49.
No word on whether or not he ever drove a bus. It seems unlikely he ever parked one.
(He certainly drove cars – he ran over his father once and later killed one of his mother-in-laws in a car crash.)