Mon, 19 Apr 2021

RIO DE JANEIRO, April 6 (Xinhua) -- Lawmakers in Brazil's Rio de Janeiro state have requested the withdrawal of a controversial bill that would rename the iconic Maracana stadium after football legend Pele.

Rio's legislative assembly president, Andre Ceciliano, who authored the bill, said he and other lawmakers had changed their mind following criticism of the proposal from fans, historians, and Brazil's media.

"I prefer to be a walking metamorphosis," Ceciliano said, citing the lyrics of a song by legendary Brazilian musician Raul Seixas.

Legislators last month voted to change the stadium's official title from Jornalista Mario Filho to Edson Arantes do Nascimento - Pele's real name - to honor the latter's "legacy in Brazilian football".

In addition to the widespread backlash, the Brazilian public prosecutor's office recommended the bill be scrapped, saying it would "violate the intangible heritage ... of the Maracana and what it means for the cultural identity of Rio".

Rio governor Claudio Castro, who had been under pressure to cede to the wishes of his assembly colleagues, is now expected to veto the bill in the coming days.

Pele, who turned 80 last October, is the only player to win the FIFA World Cup three times. In 2000, he shared FIFA's award for the best player of the 20th century with Argentine legend Diego Maradona, who passed away last November aged 60.

The Maracana is considered the spiritual home of Brazilian football and hosted the decisive World Cup matches in 1950 and 2014. It was also the showpiece venue for the Rio 2016 Olympic Games.

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