Fundamental for Athletico to change levels, Arena is out of the final

The history of Athletico-PR is one before the construction of Arena da Baixada and another totally different after the inauguration of the modern version of Estádio Joaquim Américo. The small field located in the Água Verde neighborhood, close to downtown Curitiba, gave way to one of the most modern arenas in Brazilian football in 1999. Since then, Hurricane has ceased to be an extra in national tournaments to assume a leading role. So much so that for the second time in 17 years Athletico is in the Libertadores final. However, once again he will not play at Arena da Baixada.

For this Saturday’s decision, with Flamengo, there is no controversy, after all, the tournament regulations determine that the title is defined in a single final. In 2022, Hurricane will face Fla at the Monumental Isidro Romero Carbo stadium, in Guayaquil (EQU). But in 2005, when they faced São Paulo in the decision, Athletico was not allowed to play at Arena da Baixada. The solution found was to take the first match of the final to Estádio Beira-Rio, in Porto Alegre.

Something that still bothers Athletico fans and managers 17 years later. In 2005, Arena da Baixada was not yet complete, as it is now, after the renovation carried out for the 2014 World Cup. The Furacão stadium had a capacity for 28 thousand seats, below the 40 thousand required by Conmebol for stadium to host the Libertadores final. With the installation of tubular bleachers, the club from Paraná would be able to reach the minimum required by the entity that commands South American football.

An attempt in vain, as Conmebol did not allow the Arena da Baixada to be the stage for the first decisive match of the 2005 Libertadores. “If it weren’t for the hidden forces we would have been Libertadores champions. We had 40,000 seats, I have all certificates from the police, CREA, the Fire Department it was the stadium, it was the demoralization that made us lose,” said Athletico president Mario Celso Petraglia in an interview with ESPN’s Bola da Vez programin October 2013.

In January 2021, the leader of Hurricane recalled the episode again. Before the confrontation with São Paulo, for the 2020 Brasileirão, Petraglia expressed himself through Twitter. “It’s been 15 years since football politics took us from the Baixada for the 2005 Libertadores final game against the same SPFC today! Those responsible, some have already left us, others arrested, others banned and demoralized by proven corruption! the lord of reason!” (SIC).

Mário Celso Petraglia’s post clearly made reference to the corruption scandals that arrested, removed and banned from football some leaders of Conmebol and also of the CBF in the last decade.

Before and after Arena da Baixada

Then the most modern stadium in Latin America, Arena da Baixada was inaugurated in 1999 and marked a new era for Athletico, which was still Atlético Paranaense. Before the new stadium, Hurricane’s great achievements at national level were the 3rd place in the 1993 Brasileirão and the 1995 Série B title, won against rivals Coritiba.

The story began to change in 1999, right in the first season at Arena da Baixada. Athletico won the Selective for the Copa Libertadores, which gave a place in the 2000 edition of the tournament. It was Hurricane’s first time in an international competition. Since then, presences in Libertadores or Sudamericana have become recurrent.

As well as the great achievements. In 2001 the club was Brazilian champion, a competition that almost won again in 2004, but ended up as runner-up. In 2018 and 2021, Hurricane won the Copa Sudamericana. In 2019 it was time to win the Copa do Brasil. But Libertadores is still missing, which could arrive this Saturday.

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