KEIR RADNEDGE REPORTING —- FIFA has approved the continuation of its world football museum in Zurich – though, given the capital costs of the project and liabilities incurred – it probably had little option.
The museum was one of the last ‘vanity projects’ set under way by Sepp Blatter before his eventual ban and departure from the presidency. Initial visitor figures, while reasonable for such a project in Zurich, were below targets.
Several dozen redundancies and cost-cutting measures were undertaken late last year and this spring pending the outcome of a working group review ordered by world federation president Gianni Infantino and led by deputy secretary-general Zvonimir Boban.
In a statement today, Boban said: “We are definitely on the right track. Culture and sport are part of the key values of modern society. We want to continue strengthening these values and turn the FIFA World Football Museum into a true meeting place for everyone in Zurich.”
Being “on the right track” means the more modest business model which has improved the financial outlook to see the museum evolve into “a hub of football research and cultural exchange, for both the local community in Zurich as well as football fans from across the globe.”
The working group included Evelina Christillin – the president of the Egyptian Museum in Turin and newly-appointed deputy chairman of FIFA’s football stakeholders committee – as well as Marc Caprez, former museum spokesman who became ceo after the departure last autumn of Stefan Jost.
FIFA 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.
A 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.”
Initial projections forecast 250,000 visitors annually however the reality was around half that at 132,000.
Thus far the museum has lacked the ‘personalised’ memorabilia and souvenirs displayed by other such projects such as the National Football Museum in Manchester and the Museo del Futbol in Pachuca, Mexico
Zurich is not high on the list of cities targeted by travelling football fans while visitor surveys criticised admission prices. FIFA also encountered problems renting out luxury flats at the initial projected value on the three upper storeys of the building.