FOOTBALL - BRAZIL

Iconic Maracana stadium to shut down for three years

Maracana will shut its doors in February 2010 for the next three years. Rio de Janeiro's most famous football stadium will undergo a facelift ahead of the 2014 World Cup and 2016 Olympics.

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AFP - Rio's iconic Maracana stadium will shut for three years in February to undergo a 250-million-dollar facelift ahead of the 2014 World Cup finals and 2016 Olympics.

To comply with FIFA guidelines, work will be carried out on access to the stadium, which has been classified as an historic monument, security improvements and spectator comfort.

The oval-shaped Maracana was opened on July 24, 1950 with room for 200,000 fans, although its current seated capacity is 88,992.

The Maracana will stage the 2014 World Cup final as well as the opening and closing ceremonies for the 2016 Olympics which were awarded to Rio two weeks ago.

As well as work on the venue, it's also expected that the nearby favelas (slums) will be demolished.

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