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Temporary stands for W/Cup opener

Brazil has approved temporary stands at the stadium hosting the World Cup opening match in Sao Paulo.

After inspecting the Itaquerao stadium, authorities said it would be safe to use the stands during the high-profile match between Brazil and Croatia on Thursday.

The stands behind one of the goals were not approved for the final test event at the stadium last week because of safety concerns. The installation of the temporary seats was delayed mostly because of an accident earlier this year.

Thursday is the first time the Itaquerao will have a capacity crowd.

Football's governing body Fifa initially said the stadium would hold 68,000 next week, but it put only about 61,000 tickets on sale for the match because many places will be used by journalists and to accommodate cameras needed to broadcast the match.

Fifa denied the decrease in capacity was caused by delays in stadium construction, saying it had to make adjustments to the number of tickets sold for the match because more than 1,500 journalists would be present. It also said changes had to be made after the location of 34 television cameras needed for the match was established.

"The size of the Arena de Sao Paulo was not reduced, as many people are reporting," Fifa said. "As in any operation for the World Cup, the stadium's total capacity is adjusted according to the needs of the media and the television broadcast."

The Itaquerao has been one of the most problematic stadiums for the World Cup. Late last year, a crane hoisting a giant roofing structure into place collapsed, killing two workers and causing significant delays. Builders have already said that the stadium's roof will not be fully completed until after the World Cup.

Fifa secretary general Jerome Valcke said it was normal to see a lot of work still being done outside the Itaquerao, especially because it was completed late.

One of the reasons the Brazilian football federation refused to use Sao Paulo's already-built Morumbi Stadium for the World Cup was because it claimed it would not be able to hold more than 65,000 people for the opener as required by Fifa. But Brazil played Serbia in its final warm-up match before the World Cup at the Morumbi yesterday, with nearly 70,000 people in attendance.

Brazil promised to finish all 12 stadiums by the end of last year as demanded by Fifa, but none of the six venues under construction was completed in time. Six stadiums had already been built for last year's Confederations Cup, also with delays.

Local media reports said authorities were yet to clear the Beira-Rio Stadium in the southern city of Porto Alegre, where building remains at full pace to complete temporary structures.

Some of the infrastructure projects promised by the government will also not be ready by the time the tournament begins.