SAO PAULO - FIFA oversaw the final World Cup test event at the Corinthians arena on Sunday and officials said there was "a week and a half of hard work" ahead to get the stadium ready for the opening match of the tournament on June 12.
Just 37,000 fans saw Corinthians draw 1-1 with Botafogo, far below the 68,000 capacity expected for the Brazil v Croatia game which will start the World Cup. Some parts of the ground have still not been tested with fans inside and others will undergo adjustments in the coming days, said Tiago Paes, the local organising committee's operations manager.
"A lot will be done to change the look of the stadium," Paes told reporters. "It is adjustments, adjustments to the temporary structures, the setting up of the internet, the finishing up of the executive boxes, putting in sofas, fridges, plants." “Everything will improve, I have no doubt about that," Paes added.
"Traffic, metro, military police, everyone is getting better. By the semi-final for the World Cup they'll be able to do it with their eyes closed as by then they'll all know the stadium." The stadium was due to be ready in December but is one of several still undergoing last-minute preparations.
Nevertheless, Sunday's Brazilian league game passed without any major incidents. Slow policing outside the ground meant hundreds of fans missed the start of the game and the internet signal was erratic. Transport to the ground was quick and stress-free. Although some areas were still empty, fans and officials appeared happy.
"The stadium is very pretty, it needs a few more adjustments, but it is more ready than it was in the first game," said Mano Menezes, the former Brazil coach who now manages home side Corinthians. "I think it will be a very nice opening game at the Arena Corinthians." In addition to the Brazil-Croatia opener, five other World Cup matches will be played at the ground, including a semi-final. Brazil is hosting the World Cup for the first time since 1950.