Soccer-Corinthians arena without full test before World Cup opener


By Andrew Downie

SAO PAULO, May 30 (Reuters) - The final test of the Corinthians arena will not be held before a capacity crowd, leaving parts of the new stadium untested before the World Cup's opening game there on June 12, club officials said on Friday.

Home side Corinthians were asked to hold Sunday's first division match against Botafogo at the ground in order to fully test all facilities in front of a capacity 68,000 crowd.

But the club is only selling 40,000 tickets because the fire department has denied it a safety certificate for one of the temporary stands installed for the tournament, officials confirmed to Reuters.

The only other game played there was in front of 37,000 fans two weeks ago.

FIFA general secretary Jerome Valcke appeared to ignore the bad news in his regular column for, saying "all aspects" of the ground would be tested in Sunday's game.

"On Sunday the final test will take place at the Arena de Sao Paulo between Corinthians and Botafogo, the moment when we will be able to test all aspects and then make the final adjustments to ensure all will be perfect for the Opening Ceremony and the Opening Match on 12 June," he said on Friday.

"I will not attend the test match as I will leave this to our operational experts; they know better how to assess and what needs to be adjusted."

The Corinthians stadium, which will stage the World Cup's opening match between Brazil and Croatia in Group A, was supposed to be ready last December.

However, cost overruns, poor planning and the death of three workers in two separate incidents set work back.

The stadium is not the only one still struggling to be fully ready in time for the tournament. Stadiums in Natal, Curitiba and Cuiaba are all still incomplete and Valcke singled out Natal's Dunas arena for special mention on twitter on Thursday.

"Race against the clock," he tweeted. "Still lots to be done for #WorldCup fans & media."

"We need full commitment from all parties in Natal to ensure all will be in place & tested prior to #MEXCMR on 13/06," he said referring to the game between Mexico and Cameroon, also in Group A, on day two of the tournament. (Editing by Rex Gowar)

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