By Nelson Belen, Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – Last week, Brazil’s Ministry of Sports confirmed that Rio’s Flamengo football (soccer) club formally requested permission to play in Deodoro Stadium in Rio’s Zona Oeste (West Zone). Due to the Rio 2016 Olympics and Paralympics, both Maracanã and Engenhão stadiums have been unavailable for several months forcing Flamengo to play most of its games away from Rio.
“Flamengo has officially requested the Ministry of Sport to allow the club to play in Deodoro,” revealed Sports Minister Leonardo Picciani to the news agency, Lance!. “It is not certain because this is a military area, so they will have to study the legal ramifications, and the public interest.”
In the 2016 Campeonato Brasileiro (Brasileirão) Série A, now entering round 28, Flamengo have played only one game in Rio de Janeiro city, a 3-3 draw against cross-town rival Botafogo at Ilha do Governador back on July 16th.
Despite the hardship, as of Monday, September 26th, the rubro-negra are currently in second place in the Brasileirão, only one point behind league-leader, Palmeiras.
Flamengo officials had hoped Maracanã Stadium would be available by mid-October, but, up to this point the Rio 2016 Organizing Committee, which is still overseeing the stadium, have been non-committal as to when the stadium would be ready.
“The Organizing Committee’s responsibility is to return Maracanã like it was,” said Rio 2016 President, Carlos Arthur Nuzman, who also added that there were many changes made to the stadium for the opening and closing ceremonies.
“Our goal is to make the greatest possible effort [to return Maracanã],” said Nuzman, “but for now it is impossible.”
The situation has caught the attention of Rio Mayor Eduardo Paes, who stated to ESPN Brazil that he has already interceded on Flamengo’s behalf to play in Engenhão Stadium, which, currently, is set to be used by Botafogo FC.
“I called personally the president of Botafogo to create no obstacle to this possibility of Flamengo playing in Engenhão,” said the Mayor.
When later asked about the Mayor’s phone call, Botafogo Team President Carlos Eduardo Pereira, told reporters, “I have no comment to make about this. It [Mayor Paes’ phone call] was not with me directly.”