Rio lawmakers vote in favour of renaming Maracana after Pele

Lawmakers in Rio de Janeiro have voted in favour of a proposal to rename the iconic Maracana stadium after Brazil legend Pele.

The Bill will be passed to Rio’s acting governor Claudio Castro, who has up to 15 days to sign it into a law, according to a statement released by the Rio de Janeiro state Legislative Assembly on Tuesday, Xinhua news reports.

“This is a fair tribute to a person recognised worldwide for his legacy in Brazilian football and for being of great service to our country,” said Assembly President Andre Ceciliano, who authored the Bill.

The move would see the stadium’s official title change from Jornalista Mario Filho to Edson Arantes do Nascimento — Pele’s real name.

Pele, who turned 80 last October, is the only player to win the FIFA World Cup three times. In 2000, he shared FIFA’s award for the best player of the 20th century with Argentine legend Diego Maradona, who died last November aged 60.

The Bill has drawn criticism on social media, with football fans in Rio questioning why Santos — with whom Pele played from 1956 to 1974 — did not rename their Vila Belmiro stadium after the former forward instead.

The Maracana is considered the spiritual home of Brazilian football and hosted decisive World Cup matches in 1950 and 2014.