Football is a big deal in Brazil – practically a religion. This means that for countless dedicated supports, football stadiums are places of worship. The Estádio Milton Corrêa stadium, located in Macapá, is no exception. No less than six different clubs play their home matches here, often attracting a capacity crowd of 13,680 spectators.
That, in itself, is not entirely spectacular. The country’s biggest stadium, the Maracanã (or, to use its formal title, the Estádio Jornalista Mário Filho), can hold 200,000. The Estádio Milton Corrêa has a unique claim to fame, though.
The stadium is nicknamed the Zerão as it is located at zero latitude, on the direct line of the equator that separates the North and South hemispheres. As football teams switch ends of the pitch to attack and defend at half time, this means that each team will spend 45 minutes defending a different hemisphere.
If you’re a stickler for details, the equator lies at the southern end of the pitch, somewhere around the penalty box. This means that goalkeepers, at the very least, spend an equal amount of time in each hemisphere. The games that take place in the Zerão are officially designated to Brazil’s Campeonato Amapaense league, but technically they are international affairs.
Trem Desportivo Clube was the first of the six clubs that call Zerão home to play a match on the hallowed turf. Unfortunately, it wasn’t a successful christening. Trem lost 1-0 to Independente Esporte Clube, who were champions of the Campeonato Amapaense at the time.
First built in 1990, the stadium was initially named the Estádio Ayrton Senna after the legendary F1 driver. Senna was born in São Paulo, making him a local hero. He claimed his first FIA title in 1988, cementing his legacy in the country, and went on to add two more championships before his tragic death in 1994. The first of these additional victories was in 1990, the year that construction on the stadium was completed.
The stadium officially changed its name in 1994, following the death of Milton de Souza Corrêa. This was an act of tribute, as de Souza Corrêa was a highly regarded president of the Amapá State Football Federation. This is the governing body that takes care of affairs related to the Campeonato Amapaense, representing the league at a national level by liaising with the Brazilian Football Confederation.
Ironically, 1994 was also the year that Ayrton Senna lost his life during the San Marino Grand Prix, crashing into a concrete barrier. The Brazilian football team that lifted the World Cup that year dedicated their victory to Senna, and his legacy lives on in his home country, even though the Zerão no longer bears his moniker. Airports, freeways, and racing tracks are named after Senna, and Curitiba’s Ayrton Senna complex is one of South America’s largest Renault construction sites.
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