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Maracanã to close as pitch suffers from intensive schedule

Featured image credit: Boaventuravinicius/CC BY-SA 4.0/Edited for size

Operators of the Estádio do Maracanã have announced that the Rio de Janeiro venue faces a period of closure amid concerns over the state of its pitch ahead of the staging of the Copa Libertadores final later this year.

Fluminense is due to face Paraguayan team Club Olimpia tomorrow (Thursday) in the quarter-finals of the continental club football competition, while Flamengo meets Internacional on Saturday in Campeonato Brasileiro Série A. After this point, operators said the stadium will be closed until the “necessary verifications and evaluations are carried out”.

Heavy rains and excessive use of the Maracanã pitch over the past three months have impacted play, with puddles forming in the penalty boxes during recent Série A and Libertadores matches in the stadium. “The damage that has been caused cannot be reversed without an interruption (of play),” the operators said.

The Maracanã has hosted 55 matches this year, the highest when compared to any other stadium in Brazil, with operators pointing to the fact that European stadia typically host an average of 30 games per season.

The South American Football Confederation (CONMEBOL) awarded hosting rights for the 2023 Copa Libertadores final to the Maracanã back in March. This year’s Libertadores finale on November 4 will be the third to be played at the iconic stadium following the 2008 and 2020 games.

Globe Esporte said a CONMEBOL team is due to inspect the Maracanã and its pitch tomorrow, adding that the stoppage period needed for the playing surface to recover is likely to be at least 20 days.