Córdoba (Argentina), September 30 (EFE).- Inaugurated in 1978 to host that year’s World Cup matches, played amid the civil-military dictatorship in Argentina, the stadium that will host this Saturday’s South American Cup final between Sao will host Paulo and Independiente del Valle to pay tribute to a local football great.
Born as the Olympic Stadium of Córdoba, the stadium was named in 2010 after an emblematic football player of the city and legend of Argentine football: Mario Alberto Kempes, ‘El Matador’.
Ecuadorian Independiente del Valle and Brazilian Sao Paulo face each other this Saturday in a playing field with more than 40 years of history and a capacity of some 57,000 people.
It was not only the venue for several championships, such as the 1987 and 2011 Copa América and the 2001 Under-20 World Championship, but also the South American final of 2020, which Defense and Justice won by beating their compatriot Lanús 0-3 .
In addition, bands or artists of international stature include Paul McCartney, Madonna, Luis Miguel, Bon Jovi, Aerosmith, Joaquín Sabina, Joan Manuel Serrat, Calle 13, Shakira, Iron Maiden and Justin Bieber and the Argentinians Patricio Rey and his Redonditos de Ricota and Soda Stereo, among many others.
Construction of the stadium began in 1975, three years before the 1978 World Cup was held in the South American country, which was played amid the last civil-military dictatorship (1976-1983).
It was inaugurated on May 16, 1978, with a capacity of 47,851 spectators, with the 3-1 victory of the Argentine team in a friendly against a “Combined Football from Cordoba”
The 1978 World Cup, which Argentina won, saw eight matches played (three of which were in the second phase), including West Germany’s 6-0 victory over Mexico and the Netherlands’ 5-1 victory over Austria.
Currently, the stadium is managed by the government of the central province of Córdoba.
After its general baptism as the Olympic Stadium, it was renamed “Mario Alberto Kempes” on October 21, 2010, in tribute to the goalscorer and best player in the first World Cup won by the Albiceleste.
The stands also feature the names of key Córdoba players: Daniel Alberto Willington, Luis Fabián Artime, Roberto Gasparini and Osvaldo César Ardiles.
In 2010 and 2011, it was renovated and the capacity was expanded to 57,000 spectators.
The stadium is used by Talleres and Belgrano, the two most popular teams in the province, but ‘Los Pumas’, Argentina’s rugby team, also usually plays there.
THE OTHER SOUTH AMERICAN FINAL
The 2020 South American Final was the second to be played since the rules were changed to be played as a single match in a neutral stadium.
The chosen field was Mario Alberto Kempes and exactly two Argentine teams reached the final: Defense and Justice and Lanús.
Due to the pandemic, the final was played without an audience on January 23, 2021 and the ‘Halcón de Varela’ won their first international title by winning 0-3.
This year’s tournament was originally scheduled to be played at the Mané Garrincha National Stadium in Brasilia, but Brazil has asked to change the venue due to the presidential election to be held in that country this Sunday.
For this reason, Mario Alberto Kempes will host the South American Cup final between Brazil’s Sao Paulo and Ecuadorian Independiente del Valle this Saturday at 5:00 PM local time (20:00 GMT).
Both teams will try to win their second South American in Kempes, after Sao Paulo won the 2012 edition and Independiente del Valle won the 2019, their first in one match.
(c) EFE Agency