Rio governor vetoes renaming Maracanã stadium after Pelé

SAO PAULO — The historic Maracanã stadium in Rio de Janeiro will not be renamed after Pelé.

State governor Claudio Castro on Thursday vetoed a divisive proposal passed by the state legislature to honor the three-time World Cup winner by calling it the “King Pelé Stadium.”

The stadium, which hosted the 2014 World Cup final and opening ceremony of the 2016 Olympics, will keep its official name of Estadio Jornalista Mario Filho, after the Brazilian sportswriter credited with the idea to build the stadium for the 1950 World Cup.

However, it is widely just called the Maracanã, after the Rio neighborhood it’s located in.

The veto comes after the proposal had been widely criticized and Castro said even the lawmaker behind the bill, André Ceciliano, had asked him to scrap the idea.

Filho had used his newspaper “Jornal dos Sports” to coordinate a campaign to convince Rio’s citizens that the stadium had to be constructed closer to the city center instead of an original plan to build it in a neighborhood far away. His relatives had campaigned against the name change.

The state-owned Maracanã can hold about 78,000 fans and is home to Rio clubs Flamengo and Fluminense.

The 80-year-old Pelé has not commented on the issue since the bill passed Rio’s state legislature.

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