Maracana could ban flags, instruments and shirtless fans

RIO DE JANEIRO Fri Jul 12, 2013 6:52am IST

Soccer fans walk to the subway after the Confederations Cup final soccer match in Rio de Janeiro June 30, 2013. REUTERS/Lucas Landau/Files

Soccer fans walk to the subway after the Confederations Cup final soccer match in Rio de Janeiro June 30, 2013.

Credit: Reuters/Lucas Landau/Files

RIO DE JANEIRO (Reuters) - Brazilian soccer fans could be banned from standing up, taking their shirts off, waving flags and playing musical instruments at the Maracana, the stadium administration said on Thursday.

The move at one of the world's most famous grounds is likely to cause an outcry in Brazil and confirm the fears of supporters worried about the gentrification of the country's stadiums following their modernisation for next year's World Cup.

Soccer's world governing body FIFA already prohibits flags and instruments at its matches such as World Cup games.

"We are going to talk to the clubs about a change of habit," Joao Borba, president of the Maracana Consortium, told the daily newspaper Extra.

"I'm talking about bamboo (supports for flags), firecrackers, watching matches standing up."

The report added that a ban on musical instruments was also under consideration and that fans would be told not to take their shirts off.

Rio de Janeiro's four top-flight clubs Flamengo, Fluminense, Vasco da Gama and Botafogo are expected the share the refurbished Maracana, although so far only Fluminense have signed an agreement.

The Maracana, the spiritual home of Brazilian football, re-opened in June after a rebuilding programme plagued by delays and burgeoning costs.

The atmosphere during last month's Confederations Cup was widely praised despite the absence of flags and musical instruments.

However, some felt it had lost the magic of the old arena where matches were played against the backdrop of beating drums and teams were greeted with fireworks, showers of toilet rolls and the waving of giant flags.

(Writing by Brian Homewood in Berne; Editing by Sonia Oxley)

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