Embarrassed FIFA vows tighter security after Rio breach

Embarrassed FIFA vows tighter security after Rio breach
Chilean supporters cheer for their team ahead of the Group B football match.

RIO DE JANEIRO - FIFA said Thursday it was embarrassed that scores of Chileans managed to gate-crash Maracana Stadium before their team's World Cup match against Spain, vowing to tighten security to avoid a repeat.

A crush of fans, many wearing their country's red jersey, shattered a door to the iconic Rio de Janeiro arena's media centre and swarmed into internal corridors before Wednesday's match, leading to 87 arrests.

"It is embarrassing," FIFA's security director Ralf Mutschke said of the incident.

"I think we have to protect journalists and the media and there's no doubt about it, we also have to protect the fans," he told reporters at FIFA's daily World Cup briefing, whose topic was changed from medical services to security after the episode.

He said the invasion by ticketless fans - the second such incident at the stadium, which will host the July 13 final - had made organizers rethink security measures at Brazil's 12 match venues.

"We had meetings to assess the situation and make sure that this won't be repeated and I am confident that with the measures discussed we will avoid such an incident again," he said.

However, Mutschke would not specify what measures would be taken.

"It's not from another planet," he said.

"You assess the structures, the material, and you assess if there are individual failures. This is all going to be assessed and you come to a conclusion to avoid such failures again."

Hilario Medeiros, head of security for the local World Cup organising committee, said the problem was "operational" and that neither the physical barriers around the stadium nor the number of security personnel - 1,000 stewards at the stadium plus 3,000 police around it - were to blame.

"For the next match we will be able to guarantee (security)," he said. "Obviously we're working on this day and night."

Old tickets 

FIFA claims no ticketless fans managed to get into the match.

But security staff and witnesses spoke of about 200 fans rushing the stadium, some making it through a tunnel onto the pitch and being lifted up into the stands.

Medeiros said the gate-crashers had used old tickets to get past the security perimeter that police set up around the stadium on match days.

AFP correspondents saw multiple police checkpoints in the streets around the stadium but said officers were not looking closely at tickets or accreditation badges.

The arrested fans - who numbered 90 according to the Chilean consul and included a Colombian and a Peruvian - have been given 72 hours to leave the country or face deportation.

Medeiros praised the work of security guards in stopping the fans, saying they did so non-violently as trained and then worked with police to detain them.

He also underlined that security personnel had confiscated large numbers of butterfly knives, fireworks and other contraband outside the stadium - though Mutschke acknowledged a fan had managed to set off a firecracker inside.

Wednesday's breach comes after a group of fans in Argentina colors smashed through an entry gate at Maracana before the country's first World Cup match Sunday.

Nine people were arrested after that incident and were released without charge after being booked and put on file.

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