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Security ramped up at World Cup stadiums

Brazil will use stronger barriers and post police in high-risk areas to prevent further invasions by ticketless fans at World Cup matches in Maracana Stadium, officials said. 

RIO DE JANEIRO: World football body FIFA and Brazilian authorities are bolstering security at all World Cup stadiums after two embarrassing breaches at Rio's iconic Maracana, which will host the July 13 final.

Swarms of rowdy fans gatecrashed both matches the Rio stadium has hosted so far, embarrassing organisers and raising concerns about security at its remaining games, starting with Russia against Belgium on Sunday through to the final.

But organisers are taking no chances, ramping up security near and at the other 11 stadiums as well.

"It has been decided to reinforce security around the stadiums and increase the presence of public security at access and control points and also that of private security at the 12 stadiums," FIFA said after talks late Friday with Brazilian authorities.

The discussions between government officials, the local organising committee (LOC) and FIFA brought agreement to use stronger barriers and post police in high-risk areas to prevent further invasions by ticketless fans.

"Very good security meeting between FIFA, LOC & Brazilian government. Am certain agreed actions will make this great #WorldCup even safer," FIFA secretary general Jerome Valcke tweeted.

Rio military police commander Jose Luis Castro had earlier told a press conference: "We are going to establish an extra isolation cordon with mobile fences in the Maracana's sensitive zones and mobilise 600 police in those zones."

The 600 police officers will come in addition to another 2,500 posted around the stadium.

They will guard the 12 entry gates and six other high-risk areas.

Security inside the stadium is handled by private FIFA stewards.

Hilario Medeiros, head of security for the local World Cup organizing committee, said the number of stewards would be maintained at 1,037 for Sunday's match at the Maracana -- but could be increased in the future, "depending on the risk of the match".

Eighty-seven people were arrested on Wednesday after a crush of Chile fans shattered a door to the Maracana's media centre and swarmed into internal corridors before their team's match against Spain.

FIFA security director Ralf Mutschke called the incident "embarrassing".

It came after a similar breach last Sunday, when nine people were arrested after a group of Argentina fans smashed through an entry gate at the Maracana, although there have been no similar incidents at any of the other stadiums.

Medeiros said organisers have changed the security plan for any future problems at the Maracana.

"We have rapid-intervention brigades that intervened to contain the (Chile) fans and afterward the military police arrested them," he said.

"With the new measures, in case of an attempted entry by force, we will have a second police cordon."

Brazilian media quoted Valcke as saying that "what we want is a secure event" and that "whatever is necessary to achieve this, security will be done by FIFA and the government".

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