Brazil opens second stadium
Brazil's preparations to host the 2014 World Cup have gathered speed with the opening on Friday of the second of the 12 stadiums destined to hold matches during the tournament.
President Dilma Rousseff formally inaugurated the rebuilt Mineirão Stadium in Belo Horizonte, less than a week after cutting the ribbon at the Castelão Stadium in Fortaleza.
Tens of thousands of fans are expected to visit the Mineirão in the coming days to see a stadium that took almost three years to refurbish at a cost of 695 million Brazilian reais.
The Mineirão is one of Brazil's best-known stadiums and in being delivered on time and on budget is a benchmark for the other 10 stadiums under construction.
"This is as good as Wembley, as good as (the Allianz Arena in) Munich, it's up there with the best stadiums in the world," Carlos Alberto Parreira, assistant to Brazil manager Luiz Felipe Scolari, told reporters.
"A stadium like this is great news for both players and fans."
The 62 160 capacity Mineirão will host three games during the 2013 Confederations Cup and six during the 2014 World Cup, including one of the semifinals.
The stadium, which is situated alongside a complex featuring works by renowned Brazilian architect Oscar Niemeyer, is nevertheless already causing controversy in Belo Horizonte - home to clubs Atletico-MG and Cruzeiro.
Cruzeiro are Brazil's seventh biggest club in terms of number of fans, and Atletico are 11th, sports consultancy Pluri says. The two teams are due to play the inaugural match at the stadium in February.
However, Atletico fans could be locked out of the game unless the two clubs reach an agreement over tickets.
The match is a home one for Cruzeiro and they are reluctant to give tickets to their rivals, who do not welcome away fans when the two play at Atletico's home stadium, the Independencia.
Some Cruzeiro supporters have also voiced anger at the sharp rise in prices to watch their team in 2013. The cheapest tickets for the ground will cost 50 reais next year, up from 20 reais this term.
Season ticket prices have also gone up.
The 12 stadiums are scheduled to cost 6.7 billion reais, three times more than their original budget. Germany spent 3.64 billion reais to build and refurbish 12 stadiums for the 2006 World Cup and South Africa splashed out 2.7 billion reais on 10 arenas just two years ago.
The Brazilian government's own federal accounts court says at least four of the stadiums will be white elephants when the tournament is over.
The vast majority of the cash being spent in Brazil is public money.