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Goal deluge at Maracana reopening celebration

SoccerNews in World Cup 28 Apr 2013

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The new-look Maracana stadium in Rio saw the Friends of Ronaldo defeat the Friends of Bebeto 8-5 on Saturday.

The two friendly teams put on an attacking show for the Brazilian fans, many of whom had worked on the stadium improvements ahead of the FIFA Confederations Cup final on 30 June and 2014 World Cup final to be staged at the prestigious arena.

Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff, the Governor of Rio de Janeiro state Sergio Cabral and the Mayor of Rio Eduardo Paes all attended with the Maracana filled to 30 percent of its total 78,838 capacity.

FIFA President Sepp Blatter, in a congratulatory message, said: “The reopening of the Maracana marks a very special moment for a stadium with so much history and such an aura. It’s every fan’s dream to watch a game in this footballing temple at least once in their lifetime.

“Unfortunately, other commitments prevent me from being there, but I can hardly wait until I’m in the stands of the Maracana on 16 June, when Mexico take on Italy at the FIFA Confederations Cup.

“The photos I’ve seen show the immense amount of work carried out in order to transform this stadium into a modern arena while preserving its historic characteristics.

“In recent months, many doubts were raised about whether the stadiums would be ready to host the FIFA Confederations Cup. But we trusted in the commitment made by the hosts and it paid off.

“I’m sure that you will all really make the most of this. My best wishes to you all and see you in June! For the game, for the world, for Brazil, for Rio and for the Maracana.”

Ricardo Trade, CEO of the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil Organising Committee (LOC), said: “Right from this first test event we’ve been able to witness how beautiful and modern the new Maracana is.

“This is a landmark for the host venue, for Cariocas and for all Brazilians, as well as for the LOC and FIFA in terms of the preparations for these two events.

“We will continue to work with the host venue for a test event on 2 June which we’ll be operationally involved in: the friendly match between Brazil and England.”

Goalscorer Bebeto added: “In my whole career, this was the best place I ever played. Playing at the Maracana was always really special.”

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