Written by Billy Munday
Three years after the 2014 World Cup in Brazil, reports emerged that the infamous Maracanã Stadium in Rio de Janeiro is now unused and in a depleted state. This has shocked football fans worldwide who have fond memories of the matches held in the stadium, including the World Cup Final between Germany and Argentina. But what about the other stadiums? Are they being used? How full do they get? Here I will explore what these spectacular venues have become in Brazil’s economic crisis.
Despite all the doom and gloom that looms over these structures in the aftermath of the tournament, some of the stadiums are used by clubs in Brazil’s first division, with some proving to be very suitable homes for their tenants. The Arena de Sao Paolo, in (you guessed it) Sao Paolo is used by the accomplished Corinthians, FIFA Club World Cup winners in 2013, beating Chelsea 1-0 in the final in Japan. However, their average home attendance is not even half of the total capacity at 28,791. This is much the same story at the Estadio Mineirão where tenants Cruzeiro have an average attendance of 21,081 out of a nearly 62,000 capacity.
So why are the stadiums not filling up? Well, the fact that the Brazilian league is not of the highest quality, with the most talented and exciting players being prized away from European clubs as soon as they show any sign of promise, take Gabriel Barbosa and Gabriel Jesus who recently moved to Inter Milan and Manchester City respectively. Santos’s average attendance fell by 20% in the years following the departure of Neymar to Barcelona. In fact, the highest average attendance in Brazil in 2016 was not recorded in a stadium used at the 2014 World Cup but at Palmeiras’s Allianz Parque, which they moved into in late 2014.
Most of the Brazil 2014 stadiums are actually used by teams much lower down the Brazilian football pyramid than the likes of Corinthians and Cruzeiro. The Estadio Castalao in Fortaleza hosted some iconic matches in the World Cup three years ago, such as Costa Rica’s stunning comeback against Uruguay in the group stages and Brazil’s 2-1 win over Colombia, including THAT free kick from David Luiz. But now it’s used by three different lower league clubs which barely attract a tiny part of the total capacity, it’s no longer an exclusive football stadium either, also being used for concerts by musical stars like Elton John.
Remember England’s promising yet disappointing loss at the hands of Italy? That stadium in Manaus, the Estadio de Amazonia, is currently being used by local side Nacional, in the equivalent of the English League 2 in Brazil. That’s like Stevenage playing at Stamford Bridge every other week. The Estadio Nacional in Brasilia is used by the Brazilian National team from time to time, but its weekly use is by Brasilia FC, so far down the Brazilian leagues that their in a regional division. For all you Wealdstone fans out there, that’s like seeing your club playing at Wembley every week. Now in England, they may get a decent number of fans in Wembley for a match involving lower league teams (46,781 watched the FA Trophy and FA Vase finals at Wembley in 2016), in Brazil there is real lack of enthusiasm for semi-professional football so no wonder the Estadio Nacional doesn’t need those 60,000 extra seats.
With some of the stadiums being used at the 2016 Rio Olympics, there was a chance for the great arenas to feel wanted again. But with the increasingly difficult economic situation in Brazil after hosting these two great sporting spectacles, it seems like these stadiums may never create such fond memories, enjoy the feel of a capacity crowd or witness historic moments again.
What are your thoughts on this situation? Let us know in the comments below!