ITAQUERA, SÃO PAULO – A second final test was held on Sunday at the São Paulo stadium that will host the opening match of the World Cup on 12 June.
World Cup organisers FIFA had called for a second public test after the first, held two weeks ago, was not able to test the two temporary stands – each capable of holding 10,000 fans, bumping the stadium’s 48,000-spectator capacity to 68,000 for the World Cup.
However, Sunday’s second and last public test – a clash between Corinthians and Botafogo football clubs, which ended in a disappointing draw for the host side – drew only 40,000 fans, and only one of the two temporary stands was partially tested.
The partial-open stand was filled with only 5,000 fans, and the second temporary stand remained closed off: these will now not face a full public test, to maximum capacity, before 12 June, when Brazil meet Croatia in the tournament’s opening match, which is expected to be a sell-out.
“We could have opened both fully stands, there’s no question of that, but there wasn’t call for it today with the number of tickets sold,” Júlio Semeghini, Coordinator for the São Paulo State World Cup Committee and São Paulo State Regional Secretary for Planning and Development, told the Anadolu Agency ahead of the match.
“As a civil construction project, they have been tested scientifically already. You don’t test stands with people on them,” he said.
However, a FIFA representative also told AA that the closed temporary stand had not yet received its safety certificate.
Fans in the temporary seating said they were careful to behave cautiously on the structures.
“We felt fine there, but we certainly didn’t jump about as much as we normally would, as we were a bit afraid,” 20-year-old Corinthians fan Thiago told AA while leaving the match.
But for others, the stadium will be ready, as will the country, despite much criticism during the build-up:
“The stadium is 99% ready and, more importantly, we are ready to welcome World Cup tourists from around the world. It’s going to be an unforgettable party,” 60-year-old teacher Cláudio Silvão told AA in fancy dress and holding a World Cup trophy replica.
According to FIFA, Sunday’s final test saw 800 stewards and 400 volunteers helping the crowds navigate the stadiums, which will be increased to 1,300 stewards and 1,200 volunteers for the first World Cup match.
The stadium has made major improvements in the last month, after it was delayed severely after accidents, including three fatalities, during its construction.
By Sunday, most of the remaining issues faced at the stadium were contained to the press area, which can accommodate up to 2,000 journalists, but cabins are not finished and monitors have yet to be installed.
In terms of fans, the pitch is still missing two of four big screens due to delays encountered during the construction phase.
Alcohol was also not served at Sunday’s match, in according with regular Brazilian legislation, but will be permitted during the World Cup, in accordance with FIFA’s demands.
Brazil is expecting to welcome 600,000 foreign tourists during the World Cup, which is being hosted in 12 cities across the country.