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Tom Cruise hearts soccer, visits two Brazil soccer institutions

Apr 1, 2013, 9:35 AM EDT

Tom Cruise, Andrea Riseborough, Olga Kurylenko

Let’s get past all the Scientology weirdness for a second where Tom Cruise is concerned. When a Hollywood institution makes a little time for soccer, we’ll cut the man some slack.

Cruise, promoting his latest movie in Brazil, just took some time to visit the famed Maracana Stadium and meet former Brazilian ace Zico. Cruise is promoting the Sci-fi flick “Oblivion.”

(He was in Buenos Aires a day before storming Rio de Janeiro with his lovely co-stars, and he’s in Moscow today. The soccer smarties will recognize all those places as past or future World Cup finals sites. Clearly, that’s not why Cruise’s handlers have selected these spots … just sayin’.)

Cruise has been a friend to soccer before – or at least a friend to one of the game’s marquee figures. Cruise was a frequent visitor to the Home Depot Center during the David Beckham years in sunny So-Cal; the two were friends from the time Beckham landed in L.A. to play for the Galaxy in 2007.

After meeting with Zico, Cruise told Globo TV he would message Beckham about meeting the Brazilian star and visiting the famed ground (site of the 1950 World Cup final), saying the former England captain and current Paris Saint Germain midfielder would be jealous for it all.

The Maracana, the heart of Rio de Janeiro soccer, is being renovated for its major role at next year’s World Cup. The huge facility will host seven matches (most of all venues next summer), including the World Cup final on July 13, 2014.

As for Zico: his managerial career never reached the same heights, but as a creator extraordinaire back in the day, he was one bad, bad man. Watch Zico at his playmaking best in a match against New Zealand at the 1982 World Cup.

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