Maracanã Stadium has been a fixture of the Rio de Janeiro skyline for decades. Opened just in time to play host to Brazil's heartbreak in the 1950 World Cup, it underwent massive renovations to host ... well, more heartbreak for Brazilians in the 2014 World Cup.
Now the iconic soccer stadium, which also hosted Brazilians' 2016 Olympic redemption, is suffering a heartbreak of a different kind: Rio's soccer authority says Maracanã has fallen into a state of abandonment and disrepair.
Since its last official use late last year, windows have been smashed, copper wiring stolen from the walls, seats torn out of their places entirely. Brazilian newspaper O Globo reports that looters even took off with a bust of journalist Mário Filho, for whom the stadium was given its official name — Estádio Jornalista Mário Filho.
The playing field itself has been left to the ravages of time and theft, leaving it a dried-out, rut-filled shadow of its Olympic self.
Given the billions of dollars the country spent on its preparations for the World Cup and the Olympics — and the massive protests that spending elicited — the neglect of Maracanã, its jewel, has raised eyebrows among Brazilian soccer officials.
But so far, few hands have been raised to fix the situation.
Neither Maracanã SA, the firm currently under contract for the stadium's upkeep, nor the Rio state government accept responsibility for the post-Olympic cleanup and administration of Maracanã, according to O Globo. Both groups are said to blame the Rio 2016 Organizing Committee for having left the stadium in disrepair after the Summer Games.
So the city's four major soccer clubs that regularly make use of the stadium, such as Flamengo, have begun looking at alternatives to Maracanã for their upcoming games. Reuters reports the teams plan to meet with the football federation on Tuesday.
But for federation President Ruben Lopes, the matter might be moot unless something significant changes.
"If there is not an immediate government intervention to stop the looting and the destruction of the Maracanã then it might not even be worth meeting on the 17th," Ruben Lopes said, according to the wire service.