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Mar 11, 2014

Fans unhappy over Manaus test event

SAO PAULO -- Fans attending the inaugural match at the new stadium in the jungle city of Manaus were not completely satisfied and reported a lot of unfinished work at the venue, which is set to host its first World Cup match in about three months.

Manaus, Arena Amazonia
Manaus has problems ahead of the big kick-off.

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Local media also reported a series of problems at the Arena da Amazonia, which opened on Sunday with a local match attended by about 20,000 people, including workers who helped build the 44,000-capacity stadium.

Some of the bathrooms weren't finished and there were leaks from parts of the roof. Fans also complained of long lines to purchase food at concession stands and said some tickets were sold to seats that didn't exist.

Local World Cup organisers said they will try to fix the problems for the next test events at the stadium, which is almost 98 percent completed. They said they already knew some of the work was not going to be finalised by Sunday's regional championship match between Nacional and Remo.

The Arena da Amazonia will host four World Cup games in June, including England vs. Italy and United States vs. Portugal. The stadium was the ninth venue to become available for football's showcase event. Three still have to be finished, including the one hosting the opener in Sao Paulo on June 12.

In addition to the lack of finishing details in most areas, Brazilian media said construction material could be seen in some places and many wheelchair fans had difficulties accessing their seats.

Officials admitted the lack of enough concession stands will have to be addressed going forward. There were long lines and many stands ran out of food before half-time.

''I got in line with 15 minutes left in the first half, but the second half is about to start and I still haven't been able to order anything,'' said Francisco Alves, a fan interviewed by the Brazilian government's website on the World Cup. ''There are not enough people working.''

Some fans couldn't find their seats because of a mistake in the tickets stubs. They had to be sent to a location which was initially supposed to be closed.

''This is a critical point that needs to be re-evaluated, it can't happen again,'' said Miguel Capobiango, one of the officials in charge of World Cup preparations in Manaus. ''But this is why we have these test events.''

At least two other test matches are expected at the stadium, which was one of six stadiums not ready by the end of last year, as FIFA had initially requested. It was expected to be inaugurated last month but the event had to be postponed because there was too much outstanding work.

The Arena da Amazonia cost nearly $290 million, about $70 million more than originally expected. The construction was marked by three workers' deaths, including a 55-year-old Portuguese man killed in an accident last month while disassembling a crane that was used to install the roof.

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