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Brazil holds test events at 2 World Cup stadiums, including one hosting opener

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SAO PAULO - Brazilian organizers held test events at two of the problematic World Cup stadiums, including the one hosting the tournament's opening game next month in Sao Paulo.

Nearly 20,000 people attended Saturday's exhibition between past and present Corinthians players at the Itaquerao stadium, which remains under construction and will not hold a full test event until next weekend.

In the southern city of Porto Alegre, about 35,000 Internacional fans saw their team beat Atletico Paranaense 2-1 in a Brazilian league match at the Beira-Rio Stadium. It was the last test event at the venue hosting five World Cup matches.

FIFA Secretary General Jerome Valcke said recently the Itaquerao and the Beira-Rio were among the stadiums still causing concern, along with the Arena da Baixada in the southern city of Curitiba.

The Arena Pantanal in the wetlands city of Cuiaba, where a constructor worker died last week, also is yet to be finished with just a month before the World Cup opener between Brazil and Croatia on June 12.

The Beira-Rio has already been officially inaugurated, but the construction of temporary structures needed for the tournament has been delayed.

The exhibition at the Itaquerao took place as workers continued to install the 20,000 temporary seats needed for the opener.

"For a first event, it was very good," said former Corinthians president Andres Sanchez, who is in charge of the stadium's construction. "We had some problems, but we will continue to make adjustments. For the World Cup it will all be 100 per cent ready."

Sanchez cited logistics problems, and fans reported difficulties accessing the Internet from their cellphones from inside the stadium. There was also a lot of unfinished work in some areas, including the restrooms, and the media faced difficulties working from inside the venue.

Former Corinthians and Brazil star midfielder Rivelino scored the venue's first goal by converting a penalty kick during the exhibition match.

The official FIFA test at the site is set for May 18 during a Brazilian league match between Corinthians and Figueirense. Only 50,000 fans will be allowed to attend even though the venue will hold nearly 70,000 for the six matches it will host during the World Cup.

The Itaquerao was one of the six stadiums not finished by the end of last year as wanted by FIFA.

Brazilian organizers are also struggling to finish all the infrastructure work needed in the 12 host cities, and it's already expected that many of the projects will not get done in time.

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Tales Azzoni on Twitter: http://twitter.com/tazzoni

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