SAO PAULO (AP) — Brazilian officials have authorized the use of temporary stands at the stadium hosting the World Cup opener in Sao Paulo next week.
Authorities inspected the Itaquerao stadium on Friday and said it will be safe to use the stands during the high-profile opening match between Brazil and Croatia on Thursday.
The stands behind one of the goals were not approved for the final test event at the stadium last week because of safety concerns. The installation of the temporary seats was delayed mostly because of an accident earlier this year.
The first time the Itaquerao will have a capacity crowd will be in Thursday’s opener.
FIFA initially said the stadium would hold 68,000 next week, but it only put about 61,000 tickets on sale for the match because many places will be used by journalists and to accommodate cameras needed to broadcast the match.
Football’s governing body denied that the decrease in capacity was caused by delays in stadium construction. It said in a statement that it had to make adjustments to the number of tickets sold for the match because more than 1,500 journalists will be present. FIFA also said that changes had to be made after the location of 34 television cameras needed for the match was established.
“The size of the Arena de Sao Paulo was not reduced, as many people are reporting,” FIFA said. “As in any operation for the World Cup, the stadium’s total capacity is adjusted according to the needs of the media and the television broadcast.”
The Itaquerao has been one of the most problematic stadiums for the World Cup. Late last year, a crane hoisting a giant roofing structure into place collapsed, killing two workers and causing significant delays. Constructors have already said that the stadium’s roof will not be fully completed until after the World Cup.
FIFA secretary general Jerome Valcke said Thursday it was normal to see a lot of work still being done outside the Itaquerao, especially because it was completed late.
One of the reasons the Brazilian football federation refused to use Sao Paulo’s already built Morumbi Stadium for the World Cup was because it claimed it wouldn’t be able to hold more than 65,000 people in the opener as required by FIFA. But Brazil played Serbia in its final warm-up match before the World Cup at the Morumbi on Friday, with nearly 70,000 people in attendance.
Brazil promised to finish all 12 stadiums by the end of last year as demanded by FIFA, but none of the six venues that were under construction were completed in time. Six stadiums had already been built for last year’s Confederations Cup, also with delays.
Local media reported Friday that authorities are yet to clear the Beira-Rio Stadium in the southern city of Porto Alegre, where construction remains at full pace to complete temporary structures.
Some of the infrastructure projects promised by the government also won’t be ready by the time the tournament begins next week.