The New Zealand government said Wednesday it was taking control of the Auckland waterfront to ensure there was no repeat of the crowd chaos that marred the World Cup's gala opener last week.
Public transport in New Zealand's largest city was overwhelmed when 200,000 people crowded into the downtown area last Friday, leading to thousands of fans missing the opening ceremony and the first match between New Zealand and Tonga.
Fans complained of being stuck in hot, crowded train carriages for hours, prompting an apology from Prime Minister John Key earlier this week.
World Cup Minister Murray McCully said parliament would pass special legislation Wednesday shifting responsibility for the waterfront from the local council to the central government.
McCully said the move was "urgently" needed to improve planning for central Auckland's next big test, Saturday's Australia v Ireland match at the 60,000-capacity Eden Park stadium.
"We need to make sure that none of the criticisms that were made about last Friday night arise this weekend," he told Radio New Zealand.
"Frankly, it would be irresponsible, based on that experience, not to."
Eden Park is the anchor venue for the six-week tournament, scheduled to hold another 10 matches during the event, including both semifinals and the Final.
McCully said the crowds that thronged into Auckland for the World Cup opener were unexpectedly large but the government's plans would ensure the city centre could cope if similar numbers turned up again.
"We've been victims of our own success here, in attracting a significantly larger crowd downtown than was anticipated," he said.
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