Rio de Janeiro, Feb 12: Brazilian football legend Zico has rued the way the iconic Maracana Stadium has been lying vacant and abandoned following a legal dispute over its management.
The stadium complex was damaged by robbers on January 10, and has been lying unguarded as clubs and authorities argued over who should manage it. Several windows were smashed and items were stolen after the stadium was broken into.
This has infuriated 63-year-old Zico, who termed Maracana as "the biggest stage of world football".
"What are you doing with the Maracanã is absurd. I visited the stadium, where I've had so many joys and lived some of the best moments of my life, and I came across a scenario of neglect and abandonment," the former Brazil and Flamengo club captain bemoaned on Facebook.
The 63-year-old also posted a video recalling epic moments in the history of the stadium, such as the football final at the Rio 2016 Games, the visit of Pope John Paul II in 1997 and some achievements of the leading Rio club.
Then the video shows the current scenario of the Maracana, its empty bleachers and a lawn that requires care.
The Maracana stadium, built to host the 1950 football World Cup and used in the 2016 Olympics, is owned by Rio de Janeiro's state government which has been hit hard by Brazil's deep economic crisis.
The stadium underwent costly modernisations for the 2014 FIFA World Cup and the 2016 Olympic Games.
The stadium has been used by all of Rio's big four football clubs, Botafogo, Flamengo, Fluminense and Vasco da Gama.