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Maracana stadium "was opened in 1950 to host the FIFA World Cup", at which time it was the largest stadium in the world. I have heard the stadium referred to as "the spiritual home of Brazilian football" a few times, and this year it will once again host the World Cup Final. Why is Brazil's top stadium in Rio, rather than in São Paulo, when the latter is a far larger city (not that Rio is small)?

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the fact that a city has more people does not imply that football culture is bigger there, does it? – posdef Jul 10 '14 at 19:38
In 1950 Rio was (slightly) bigger than São Paulo according to the historical figures on wikipedia which may explain why the 1950 final was held there. Obviously once you have somewhere like the Maracana established it's hard to displace. – Nigel Harper Jul 10 '14 at 20:17
up vote 7 down vote accepted

In 1950 - when the stadium was built - Rio de Janeiro was the Brazilian capital city. That explain why the stadium was not built in Sao Paulo

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Not to dispute this answer, but the capital city does not necessarily mean the largest city or the city with the most fans.. Actually in many countries, the capital might not coincide with the city that has most (successful) clubs, e.g. England (London only recently have title challengers), Italy (Milano and Turin) , Germany (Berlin and Bonn have never really had strong teams), Turkey (biggest teams are from Istanbul) – posdef Jul 12 '14 at 0:27
I'm 100% agree with you but frequently the capital city is the one where the main event happens. – AnthonyLeGovic Jul 15 '14 at 5:46

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