BRASILIA (Reuters) - Thousands of fans missed the kickoff for the World Cup Group E match between Switzerland and Ecuador on Sunday, the first game held in Brasilia, due to long security queues.
The month-long tournament has gone smoother than many expected four days in but fans who waited in lines for hours and still had to listen to cheering crowds from outside the Brasilia national stadium at kickoff were disappointed.
“I have been waiting for an hour here to get in, It’s a lack of organization,” said Julio Mena, face painted with the flag colours of his native Ecuador. He and others stood in the scorching sun in lines that snaked across stadium car parks that had been emptied for security.
A security guard told Reuters that staff decided to speed up controls five minutes before the match and would only check bags and visually search ticket-holders who set off metal detectors rather than patting them down.
Brazil has taken special care to ramp up security for the tournament, with about 100,000 police patrolling the 12 host cities complemented by nearly 60,000 soldiers.
The national stadium in Brazil’s capital, the most costly venue built for the tournament, has been the focus of large protests in recent weeks. Many Brazilians felt the $11 billion spent on the World Cup would have been better put towards education and health care.
On Sunday, however, cheering fans drowned out a small protest of 130 people which included striking education workers. The protesters stopped when they reached a police cordon and agreed to leave peacefully when the game started.
Reporting by Anthony Boadle; Writing by Caroline Stauffer, editing by Ed Osmond