Maracana grand gesture in Pele's memory revealed by Rio mayor

By Sports Desk January 03, 2023

The road surrounding Rio de Janeiro's world-famous Maracana stadium will be renamed in honour of Pele, city mayor Eduardo Paes announced.

Paes said the road known as the Avenida Radial Oeste – West Radial Avenue – would be named Avenida Pele, and declared it would be confirmed formally by the city on Wednesday.

That led to suggestions the renaming did not go far enough, however, and that the road should instead be titled Avenida Rei Pele – King Pele Avenue.

Paes did not disagree, asking his 691,000 followers: "What do you think?"

He put the matter to a poll on Twitter. After 13,200 votes on the ongoing poll, some 89.6 per cent of voters preferred it to be named as Avenida Rei Pele.

News the road would be renamed came on the day Pele was to be laid to rest in Santos, the Sao Paulo municipality where the three-time World Cup winner spent his club playing career.

Pele's death at the age of 82 was announced by his family last Thursday.

The Maracana is Brazil's most iconic stadium, staging the 1950 and 2014 World Cup finals and the 2016 Olympic Games opening ceremony.

Its official name is the Estadio Jornalista Mario Filho, named after a journalist who campaigned in the 1940s for its construction.

In March 2021, it was widely reported the Maracana would be renamed the Edson Arantes do Nascimento – Rei Pele Stadium, incorporating Pele's full name.

That change has not come to pass, however, with the proposal vetoed a month later by Rio's then acting governor Claudio Castro.

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