Rio’s Joao Havelange stadium is named after the former FIFA president (Getty)

(WFI) Rio de Janeiro’s mayor has announced the temporary closure of the city’s main football venue, Joao Havelange stadium, due to structural roof problems.

The venue is being expanded to host athletics events at the Rio 2016 Games. Home
base for Rio football club Botafogo and Fluminense, it’s the biggest venue for
football in the Brazilian city until the Maracana is completed.

Closure of the stadium and delays with the Maracana could yet scupper Rio’s plans to stage the England v Brazil friendly in the city on June 2.

A FIFA spokeswoman told INSIDER that the Maracana was still scheduled to re-open on April 27 to allow for test events ahead of the Confederations Cup.

But some media reports from Brazil suggest further delays could push back the re-opening to the end of May.

Rio Mayor Eduardo Paes told a news conference on Tuesday that a decision had been taken to close the Joao Havelange stadium indefinitely because three different reports highlighted that the roof’s problems presented a risk for those attending public events in the venue.

“There was a risk, so I decided to close the stadium immediately until we have more details about the solution that we will need,” he was quoted by the Associated Press.

“The stadium will stay closed for an undetermined period. If they give me a solution that will last a month, then it will stay closed for a month, if it takes a year, it will stay closed for a year.

“I will wait until a definitive solution if presented. We can’t play with something like this.”

Paes claimed the roof problems were “simply not acceptable” for a stadium which only opened in 2007.

The IOC tells World Football INSIDER it has no major worries about completion of the Rio 2016 stadium. “We are in regular contact with Rio 2016. There are still more than three-and-a-half years to go before the Games and we are absolutely confident that they will deliver,” IOC communications director Mark Adams told INSIDER on Wednesday.

By INSIDER’s Mark Bisson

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