ZURICH: The increasingly controversial FIFA World Football Museum does not face immediate closure but its future remains in question writes KEIR RADNEDGE.
President Gianni Infantino has set up a working group, under the leadership of deputy general secretary Zvonimir Boban, to present recommendations to FIFA Council in January.
The museum opened only last February not far from in the centre of Zurich but is already expected to register a signficant working loss of CHF 30m in its first year.
Boban and his team must come up with proposals either for a “new, innovative approaches” to preserve the museum’s “social and cultural value” or whether FIFA should cut its losses and relinquish the high-cost property rental.
The working group will also include Evelina Christillin, the president of the Egyptian Museum in Turin and a new female member of the FIFA Council, and Marc Caprez, the former FIFA Museum spokesman.
Caprez has been appointed new museum ceo in place of Stefan Jost who left hs post at the end of last month “due to contrasting views on future plans for the museum.”
The project — a museum on three floors featuring interactive entertainments, a cafe, bistro and library – was a long-time ambition for the now-banned former FIFA president Sepp Blatter. It was projected to attract 250,000 visitors annually. However, projected figures for the first year are 132,000, just over half the initial projection.
Visitor surveys have criticised admission prices while FIFA has also found more problems than expected in renting out luxury flats on the three upper storeys of the building.
The formal laying of the foundation stone took place in April 2013, with construction approval following a year later with a boast of ”a unique, interactive world of experiences with more than 1,000 objects, 1,480 pictures and 500 videos telling the captivating story of international football and the FIFA World Cup.”
At the time of the opening Jost said: “The museum has something for people of all ages. Visitors can expect a unique mix consisting of stories documenting the fascinating history of international football as well as interactive stations.
‘Vibrant meeting place’
“We want to bring people closer to football and make the museum a vibrant meeting place for all football and sports fans. We have no doubt that, with the World Football Museum, we have created another must-see for tourists in the city of Zurich.”
However that was to ignore the fact that Zurich is not high on the list of cities targeted by travelling football fans by comparison with the likes of Manchester, Madrid and Barcelona.
Also, the FIFA Museum lacks the sort of ‘flesh and blood’ memorabilia and souvenirs to be found in other such projects as the National Football Museum in Manchester and the Museo del Futbol in Pachuca, Mexico – to name but two.
FIFA had spent more than £100m in renovation and reconstruction of the Haus zur Enge building, with the museum itself accounting for ‘only’ a quarter of the investment in a building whose rentals runs until 2055.