KEIR RADNEDGE in RIO DE JANEIRO: FIFA president Sepp Blatter went into raptures about the Maracana experience on Sunday night as he reviewed the undoubted football success of the Confederations Cup.

Blatter was speaking the morning after Brazil’s stunning 3-0 trouncing of world and European champions Spain in the remodelled Estadio Mario Filho inRio de Janeiro.

The stadium, built for the 1950 World Cup, was reopened formally last month with Brazil’s 2-2 friendly draw against England after major redevelopment.

Blatter, in a general paen of praise to Brazil’s hosting of the World Cup warm-up event, said: “The Maracana Stadium is something very exceptional. When I visited the first time in 1975 and years later there’s always something special, a roar, in this stadium.

“You can compare such a stadium with a cathedral.”


Blatter praised the Brazilian fans as “extraordinary” and the atmosphere they generated as “fantastic” – particularly by carrying on singing the national anthem after the public address version had ended.

He said: “Thanks in name of FIFA and the executive committee to those who made this competition such a success – whatever the unrest which has been there – because football finally is a winner and the people ofBrazilare winners and Brazilian football is a winner because they won.

“The legacy will be an absolutely outstanding World Cup, no problem. I’m looking forward with optimism towards next year.”

** Brazil midfielder Paulinho, voted third in the man of the tournament poll at the Confederations Cup, has confirmed he is to join Tottenham from Corinthians of Sao Paulo.


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