Stadium of World Cup opener to be tested again
SAO PAULO (AP) — Brazilian organizers will test the stadium hosting the World Cup opener one more time after a request from FIFA.
The local football federation has accepted to make changes to the Brazilian league schedule so another match can be played at the troubled Itaquerao, which remains unfinished three weeks before the World Cup begins in Sao Paulo.
The stadium held its first official match on Sunday in what was supposed to be the final test event before the tournament, but FIFA and the local World Cup organizing committee said Tuesday that it was important to hold another match at the venue.
“FIFA and the local organizing committee requested to stage another test event in order to ensure the entire infrastructure is tested at full capacity ahead of the opening match,” football’s governing body told The Associated Press in an email sent on Tuesday.
Nearly 70,000 fans and guests are expected for the high-profile inaugural match between Brazil and Croatia, but less than 40,000 people were at the Itaquerao stadium on Sunday because of safety concerns. The 20,000 temporary seats being installed for the opener were not ready to be used by then, but are expected to be available for the new test event scheduled for May 29.
Corinthians will host Brazilian champion Cruzeiro in a match that was originally scheduled to be played at a different Sao Paulo stadium on May 28. That match was to be played at night, but FIFA wants it to start in the afternoon, at the same time of the June 12 opener.
Local organizers said they were mostly pleased with the results of the first test event even though they acknowledged there were a few problems, including a leaking roof. Constructors had already said that the stadium’s roof will not be fully finished until after the World Cup because there was not enough time to add the glass covers that would help protect fans from rain.
The delay happened in part because the glasses initially planned for the roof were turned down by the club for being green, the color of Corinthians’ rival Palmeiras, according to former club president Andres Sanchez, the official in charge of the venue. Constructors, meanwhile, said the glasses were not installed because “transparency studies” were not completed in time.
It’s not clear whether Corinthians will be able to sell the nearly 70,000 tickets needed to pack the Itaquerao for the newly-scheduled test event next week. Fans were upset with the team’s loss to then last-place Figueirense in the stadium opener, and complained of the high prices of tickets.
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