SAO PAULO – Fans of one of Brazil's most popular soccer clubs will have a chance to spend eternity near some of their greatest idols.
Corinthians said it is building its own cemetery, complete with a mock soccer field and VIP tribunes where some of the team's greatest players will be offered burial spaces.
The "Corinthians Forever" cemetery is expected to open late in 2015, but fans can already start booking one of the 70,000 burial places available.
Those willing to spend a little more will be allowed to choose exactly where they want to be laid to rest — either close to the former players or near midfield, the goalposts or one of the penalty spots of the mock field.
"Aimed at satisfying the eternal passion of the Corinthians fans, the project will enrich the club's centenary history," Corinthians said in a statement.
Brazil's second most popular club behind Flamengo, Corinthians is also offering funeral services to its nearly 30 million supporters, known as some of the most fanatic in the country.
Those adhering to the funeral plans can make monthly payments that will allow them to be buried in coffins draped with Corinthians' flag and be entitled to a ceremony where the club's anthem is played. Flower arrangements with the team's black-and-white colors are also available.
The private cemetery, located in a city about 30 minutes from the team's base in Sao Paulo, is being built in partnership with Grupo Memorial, a company specialized in funeral services. The club said it's not spending any money in the cemetery.
Company officials said they are already contacting some of the team's former players to offer them burial spaces. Past stars who have already died can be transferred to the new site if their relatives wish.
Price details for burial spots were not immediately released, but the club said fans who book their place now will get a discount.
A five-time Brazilian champion and FIFA's club world champion in 2000 and 2012, Corinthians said the cemetery will be the largest of its kind in the world.
"We won't restrict anybody," marketing director Alexandre Ferreira joked when asked by Brazilian reporters if rival fans would be allowed to buy burial spaces. "We are expecting to see the most fanatic Corinthians fans, those who dedicated their lives to the club, but everybody will be welcome."
Popular Argentine club Boca Juniors also announced plans a few years ago to build a private cemetery, but the project never materialized. German clubs Schalke and Hamburg also have their own cemeteries, and earlier this year Barcelona announced a mausoleum for its fans.
Corinthians' Brazilian rival Sao Paulo "baptizes" fans at its Morumbi Stadium, although the event is not considered an official religious ceremony.
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