Their “solution” appears to be a slap in the face to both FIFA and soccer fans.
If you’re interested in visiting one of Russia’s 11 host cities next summer to catch a live World Cup game, you might want to cross Ekaterinburg off the list after seeing what the city’s stadium has in store for soccer fans. The World Cup standards dictate that every venue for the global event accommodate at least 35,000 fans, which could exceed the existing accommodations in some smaller towns in host nations. However, Russia came up with a dubious solution to make its 27,000-seat Ekaterinburg Arena, originally built in 1957, compliant with the policy — which FIFA appears to have no qualms about.
Using a comical amount of temporary scaffolding, officials have placed additional seating not so much in the stadium, but near it with a some truly questionable sightlines for the on-field action. The two installments of bleachers on either end of the venue bring the seating capacity up to the governing body’s standards for World Cup venues.
The notoriously corrupt FIFA, clearly not as concerned about the safety or user experience of its fans when compared to the additional revenue generated by extra seats, tweeted out its tacit approval of the suspect retrofit, conveying that the venue looks “fire” using an emoji.
After seeing so many haunting images of abandoned and decrepit facilities in World Cup and Olympic host nations, repurposing existing infrastructure is an admirable goal, but the outcry over this ridiculous-looking solution was swift.
However, FIFA finds the temporary adaptation to be not only acceptable but virtuous, firing off another emoji, this one a “thumbs up” in response to a tweet that reads as a thinly-veiled criticism of the approach.
FIFA has offered more than emojis to approve of the bizarre solution. Speaking to The Guardian, a FIFA spokesperson offered, “In the case of Ekaterinburg, temporary seats are being installed in order to ensure that the renovation work would conserve the historical façade of the stadium and that maintenance costs are reduced after the Fifa World Cup. Inspection visits and detailed reports have shown that the temporary seats in the Ekaterinburg Arena fully comply with all safety and security requirements.”
The statement makes one wonder what exactly are the unknown safety and security requirements that would allow for this arrangement that appears to offer no accommodation for disabled fans and questionable structural integrity. Further, this is the view of the field bleacher-relegated fans will “enjoy”:
The stands are expected to be removed after hosting just four group games, returning the venue to its original seating capacity for its primary use as the home of Russian Premier League team FC Ural.