The legislative Assembly from the Brazilian state of Rio de Janeiro approved this Tuesday a controversial law that renames the legendary Maracanã stadium with the name of Edson Arantes do Nascimento – Rei Pelé, considered by the country’s fans as the best footballer of all time.
Although the legislators stressed that it is a well-deserved tribute in life to the three-time world champion, the law generated intense controversy because it left the journalist in oblivion Mario Filho, which currently gives the name to the stadium that has been the scene of the 1950 and 2014 World Cup finals.
The change of the name of the stadium, which now depends on the law being sanctioned by the governor of Rio de Janeiro, Claudio Castro, has been criticized by the relatives of Mario Filho, by historians and by some sectors of the press.
The author of the law, the leftist deputy André Ceciliano alleged that the sports complex that houses the Maracaná stadium, which includes the Maracanazinho gym, the Julio Delamare water park and the Célio de Barros athletics track, will keep the name of Mario Filho and will continue honoring the journalist.
Only the soccer stadium, which also hosted the soccer final and the closing ceremony of the Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro 2016, will receive the name of Pelé.
“King Pelé is the greatest player of all time. It is a fair tribute. Although I have no doubt that everyone will continue to call the Maracana stadium,” said the legislator, admitting that the mythical stage will hardly lose the name of the neighborhood. that houses it.
Ceciliano also rejected criticism from those who consider the use of names of living personalities to name public spaces as proselytizing.
“The use of names of living people in property belonging to the public heritage has been a concern of society to take care of what belongs to everyone and prevent the privatization of public space. But, in this case, it is a fair tribute to a person recognized worldwide for his legacy in Brazilian soccer and for providing important services to our country, “he said.
Among the deputies who signed as co-authors of the bill is the former soccer player Bebeto, champion with Brazil of the 1994 United States World Cup.
The bill was approved by the plenary session of the regional legislature in an emergency regime and by symbolic vote, that is to say, in which only the spokesmen of each party intervened.
Only the leftist Socialism and Freedom Party (PSOL) expressed its rejection of the initiative.
“Mario Filho was a journalist not only committed to democracy but also very active in the sports area. I cannot deny that it hurts me to imagine the change of name,” alleged deputy Flávio Serafini, a PSOL legislator.
Mario Filho was the main promoter of the idea that Brazil built the largest stadium in the world for the World Cup that the country organized in 1950 and defended that it be erected in the Maracanã neighborhood, near the city center, and not in a remote neighborhood in which the government at the time wanted to build it.
The journalist was also an important sports chronicler and organizer of national soccer tournaments.