(WFI) Despite FIFA concerns about using Amazon capital Manaus for Rio 2016, it was on Monday named as one of six Olympic football cities.
World football’s governing body was worried about the distance from the jungle city, a 2014 World Cup venue, to the hub of the Games in Rio – it’s around 3,000 kilometres.
But Brazil’s Olympic organisers appear to have won their battle to persuade FIFA to approve Manaus as one of the six football venue cities, in so doing extending its World Cup legacy.
The 58 Olympic matches will be played in six cities and seven stadiums from 3 to 20 August 2016: Belo Horizonte (Mineirão Stadium), Brasilia (Mané Garrincha Stadium), Manaus (Amazônia Arena), Rio de Janeiro (Maracanã Stadium and Olympic Stadium), Salvador (Fonte Nova Arena) and São Paulo (Corinthians Arena).
Rio’s Olympic Stadium will stage football in the first week of the Games and athletics in the second, when Brazil’s national sport will switch to its national home. The Maracanã, venue for the 2014 World Cup final, will host the men’s and women’s finals.
“The Olympic football tournaments will be a fantastic opportunity to revive the great atmosphere seen during the 2014 FIFA World Cup, not only in Rio de Janeiro but also in the other five cities,” said Marco Polo Del Nero, chairman of the FIFA organising committee for the Olympic tournaments.
“They did an excellent job in 2014, and now they can use the World Cup stadiums and infrastructure already in place to unite the country for a major event once more. I am confident that the participating teams will have an unforgettable Olympic experience,” he added.
FIFA said its officials would analyse several match schedule proposals before approving the final plan.
Rio 2016 organising committee president Carlos Nuzman welcomed today’s announcement.
“The inclusion of Manaus in the Rio 2016 Olympic schedule will enrich the tournament with a visit of the football players to one of the most iconic locations in the world,” he said. “I am certain that the Amazon will welcome the Olympic world with a memorable celebration.”
Two South American teams are already confirmed in the Rio 2016 men’s football competition: Brazil, as host country, and Argentina, as the winners of the South American under-20 championship. In the women’s tournament, Colombia confirmed their place, along with hosts Brazil, by finishing runners-up in last year’s Copa America.
All the remaining places will be decided by April 2016.
By INSIDER editor Mark Bisson
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