HUNTING WHITE ELEPHANTS / CAÇANDO ELEFANTES BRANCOS

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31 January 2007

Mindboggl'n complexity


This is an organizational structure of the Maracanã. Arrows indicate the different places (or spaces) within (and without) the stadium that the block impacts. It is implicit that high ranking political figures in world soccer and in national governments have economic and social (or familial) relationships, solidifying these networks.

At the top right, in blue, are the governing agencies of football that have a stake in the stadium. FIFA, the world governing body, CONMEBOL, the regional association, the CBF, Brazil's national soccer federation and FERJ, the Rio de Janeiro State federation. The middle section, in yellow, refer to police and/or military units (MP, PE, GEPE, Guarda Municipal) or to specific national laws that deal with fans and stadiums (Law of the Spectator is but one). In green are the Brazilian governmental agencies involved in the stadium including national, state, and local governments as well as SUDERJ, the Rio de Janeiro state superintendency for sports that owns and manages the stadium with more than 1,000 full time employees. Radiating out of the stadium on the bottom right, are the connections that the stadium has to other social, urban, historical and other realms that can be picked apart as one chooses.

Quinta da Boa Vista and the Maracanã

In the foreground of this picture is the water tank that hydrated the Portuguese Royal family after they fled Napoleon's unwanted Iberian advances in the early 19th century. Esatablishing their court in the capital of their Brazilian colony, Rio de Janeiro, they maintained their imperial presence in South America until the proclamation of the Brazilian Republic in 1889. Located in the then suburban neighborhood of São Cristóvão, the Quinta de Boa Vista was the seat of the Portuguese Empire, with holdings in Africa, Southand East Asia (Macao, Taiwan), Europe, India, and the Americas. Today the residence is a national nusuem and the grounds are an extensive park.

Hovering low and blue in the background is the Estádio Journalista Mario Filho, the Maracanã. The Maracanã is generally spoken about in mythical terms, and there is good reason for that. On July 16, 1950, as many as 200,000 people watched Uruguay shock their hosts in the World Cup final 2-1, in the 79th minute. Some say that the Brazilians had been so sure that they were going to win that before the tournament that they offered to paint their recently built Estadio Municipal do Rio de Janeiro, the largest stadium in the world, a symbol of Brazil in the heart of its capital city, in the colors of the winning team. Uruguay won, Brazil were a defeated nation, and 57 years later the Maracanã remains sky-blue. Others suggest that celeste tiling was incidental, others that a relative of the Govenor (whichever) traded in blue tiles, others something else. This is the nature of mythical places.

Taken together the elements of the picture comprise a cohesive landscape that brings together complentrary elements of Brazilian culture. The colonial landscape of the Quinta de Boa Vista merges with the modernist landscape of the stadium, integrating past, present and future "Brazils". Each element is a world of complexity unto itself, with shifting meanings as one changes scales, tactics, and interpretations.

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