Estádio Nilton Santos

CityRio de Janeiro
ClubsBotafogo FR
Other names Estádio Olímpico João Havelange (2003-2015)
Inauguration 30/06/2007
Construction 2003-2007
Renovations 2013, 2016, 2017
Record attendance 43 810 (Fluminense - Botafogo, 30/06/2007)
Cost R$ 380 million
Design Carlos Porto
Address R.


Estádio Nilton Santos – tournament stadium description

Copa America 2021 games at Estádio Nilton Santos

During Copa America 2021 the stadium was selected for 5 group games, one quarterfinal and one semifinal. Were it not for the final match, the stadium would have held all of Rio de Janeiro’s tournament fixtures.

FixtureTime (local)Stage
  Argentina 1–1 Chile   14/06/2021 18:00 Group A
  Brazil 4–0 Peru   17/06/2021 21:00 Group B
  Venezuela 2–2 Ecuador   20/06/2021 18:00 Group B
  Brazil 2–1 Colombia   23/06/2021 21:00 Group B
  Uruguay 1–0 Paraguay   28/06/2021 21:00 Group A
  Brazil 1–0 Chile   02/07/2021 21:00 Quarterfinal
  Brazylia – Peru   05/07/2021 20:00 Semifinal


The stadium sits within the Engenho de Dentro district, west of the strict centre of Rio de Janeiro. Aside from numerous bus lanes running locally, the stadium has its own rapid rail station, Olímpica de Engenho de Dentro, just a short walk southwards. It’s served by the Japeri and Santa Cruz lines.

History of the stadium

It was designed and delivered for the 2007 Pan American Games as the main athletics venue. Eventually it was clear, however, that football would be its main legacy use. Taking into account the variety of football clubs in Rio and scarce space for construction, it was a safe bet. Although many teams played as hosts here, it was Botafogo who took over tenancy and eventually became the operator.

Commonly known as Engenhão (from the district’s name), the stadium was named after legendary FIFA president João Havelange soon afterwards. When corruption accusations began surfacing around Havelange, the name was changed. Botafogo used the opportunity and put their own club legen Nilton Santos in the name, which helped build stronger identity for the stadium.


Designed by a team under Carlos Porto, the stadium came as a result of numerous studies. Visually, however, it immediately brings to mind the Lisbon stadium of Benfica, opened around the time. The roof sits on 4 columns and is supported by 4 arches, the main difference from Lisbon being the undulating surface.

As for the auditorium, it was created with greater plans than just the Pan American Games. The building was always intended to eventually house the Olympics, a dream that came true in 2016. While not used as opening/closing venue, it still played a major role. Stands behind goals were created with a single tier but also an option to quickly add another one. This enabled an increase to 60,000 for the Olympics.

Other events

We already know about the Pan American Games and the Olympics, let’s talk about football. You won’t be surprised to know that the likes of Fluminense and Flamengo played home games here, but the list also includes Vasco da Gama and Duque de Caixas, as well as the national team of Brazil. Until 2021 there was no talk of Copa America, however, since the stadium missed the shortlist of Brazil’s 2019 tournament.


Non-tournament pictures