Pele’s full name – Edson Arantes do Nascimento – could be adorning Maracana Stadium soon. (Michael Lewis/FrontRowSoccer.)
Maracana Stadium in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil is on the verge of being renamed.
The 71-year-old iconic soccer venue will be named after Pele.
The Rio de Janeiro state legislature has approved a bill to change the stadium’s name to the Edson Arantes do Nascimento – Rei Pele stadium. Rio de Janeiro’s state governor needs to approve the name change to make it official.
Edson Arantes do Nascimento is Pele’s full name. Rei means king in Portuguese.
“It is a worthy homage to a man who is recognized the world over for his legacy in Brazilian football and for the corresponding services rendered to our country,” the deputy responsible for the project was quoted by Reuters.
Pele, who turned 80 in October, is to many the world’s greatest soccer player. He is the only player to have played for three World Cup champions (1958, 1962 and 1970).
He went on to play for the Cosmos in the North American Soccer League from 1975-77. His signing helped spark a soccer boom in the United States that it is still being felt today and probably will for a long time, if not forever.
Maracana was built for the 1950 World Cup. It hosted the final that year as well as in 2014.
It once had a capacity of more than 200,000. The current capacity has been downsized to 78,838.
The stadium was named after journalist Mario Filho, who lobbied for its construction during the 1940s. It is more commonly known as Maracana, the area in which is was built.