SAO PAULO (AP) — FIFA and Brazilian organizers are downplaying the fact that the final test event at the stadium hosting the World Cup opener won't be held with a capacity crowd.
Only about 40,000 people will be allowed at the Itaquerao for a Brazilian league match on Sunday, meaning that organizers will not be able to fully test the stadium before the inaugural match between Brazil and Croatia on June 12.
FIFA secretary general Jerome Valcke last week said it was "vital" to test the Itaquerao "under full match conditions, including the temporary seats." But only some of the 20,000 temporary seats installed for the opener will be used because of safety concerns raised by local authorities.
FIFA and the local World Cup organizing committee said that ideally they would have preferred to have a full crowd of nearly 70,000 people on Sunday, but noted that the test event will still be "extremely important" to help making sure the stadium will be ready for the opener.
The match between Corinthians and Botafogo will mark the final test event at the Itaquerao, which has been among the most problematic venues ahead of the World Cup.
"Ideally, FIFA and the local organizing committee would have preferred to operate this event as a full capacity match," they said in a statement. "However, the match will still be extremely important to train and integrate the local (teams of organizers)."
FIFA usually wants three test events in each venue before a tournament such as the World Cup, but it had to make exceptions in Brazil because of the chronic delays in most of the stadiums.
Football's governing body says test events are crucial so officials can monitor all operational areas that will be used during World Cup matches, including the temporary facilities needed for the media, communications and technical teams. Organizers also monitor the movement of fans outside and inside the venues, so having a full crowd is key for a proper test.
"Not having a final test the way it should, with a capacity crowd, represents a risk both in terms of safety and comfort — things that a stadium like the Itaquerao must have," said Adriano Pires, an infrastructure analyst in Brazil.