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Pitch invasion among Manaus setbacks

It might be $250m over budget, but the Arena da Amazonia stadium in Manaus is finally almost complete.

SAO PAULO -- A pitch invasion and sound-system problems marked the first major test event at the World Cup stadium in the jungle city of Manaus.

World Cup organizers said they are satisfied with how the stadium handled the nearly 40,000 fans for the Brazilian Cup match between Vasco da Gama and Resende on Thursday, but admit some issues will have to be addressed ahead of the England-Italy game on June 14.

The nearly 600 stewards who were being tested for the first time could not keep some fans from entering the field after the 0-0 draw between the Rio de Janeiro clubs.

Before kickoff, players lined up for the national anthem but the sound system failed and nothing was heard. Fans faced a series of problems entering the Arena da Amazonia, and communications inside the stadium also did not work properly, according to organizers.

"This was the first official test event, we didn't expect everything to be perfect," said Tiago Paes, one of the officials in charge of operations at the World Cup organizing committee. "In general, we were very satisfied with the results in Manaus."

The Arena da Amazonia was officially inaugurated on March 9, when only 20,000 fans were allowed in the 44,000-capacity stadium because of security reasons. At the time, fans reported a lot of unfinished work at the venue, which was one of the six not completed by the end of last year as wanted by FIFA.

The pitch invasion happened after the final whistle, when at least three Vasco da Gama fans got past stewards to try to get near the players. They did not make any threats, but organizers admitted they were not supposed to get in.

"We will analyze the images of the invasion to find out what went wrong and who was not paying attention at the time," Paes said. "This will not happen in World Cup matches."

Construction at the Arena da Amazonia, with its diamond-shaped roof panels that resemble snake scales, was marked by three workers' deaths. In addition to the high-profile match between England and Italy, the stadium will also host Cameroon-Croatia, United States-Portugal and Switzerland-Honduras.

"Our challenge now is to make sure we can keep improving in all operational areas," said Miguel Capobiango, one of the officials in charge of World Cup preparations in Manaus.

Three of the 12 World Cup stadiums have yet to be inaugurated, including the one hosting the opener on June 12 in Sao Paulo. Work in part of that stadium has been stopped since Monday because of a worker's death over the weekend.


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