EXCLUSIVE: FIFA museum MD promises 'special visitor experience' ahead of opening weekend

by Tom Anstey | 26 Feb 2016

FIFA’s World Football Museum will launch this weekend in Zurich as a "playful, emotional voyage of discovery for world football,” the project's managing director has told CLAD.

Speaking in an exclusive interview, Stefan Jost said that there is a "positive buzz and a lot of anticipation" around the project, which is part of a larger CHF150m (US$151.1m, €137.7m, £108.6m) development which also includes luxury apartments, a restaurant, a sports bar, a shop, FIFA office space and a conference centre.

"Everyone wants to see what the reaction of the public is and if it is what we think it will be, then it really will be something special,” he said.

First announced by then-FIFA president Sepp Blatter in 2012, the 3,000sq m (32,300sq ft) museum is located in a former office building. FIFA signed a 40-year lease with insurance company Swiss Life to rent Haus zur Enge on Tessinerplatz, next to one of Zurich’s major train stations in the heart of the Swiss capital.

Charles Botta, who is usually FIFA's leading consultant on stadium construction and design, handled project management, overseeing the development from start to finish. Originally designed by Zurich-based architect Werner Stücheli, SAM Architekten and general contractor HRS International stripped the 1970s building back to its shell and rebuilt it, extending the property upwards. Design agency Triad Berlin Projektgesellschaft handled exhibition design, which focuses on play and interactivity.

“We have 15 interactive stations, eight of which are games you can play," said Jost. "We also have 60 screens and a free-to-download app with augmented reality, a treasure hunt and audio guides. It’s playful and it's entertaining which is exactly how we want it.”

Among the museum’s highlights are The Rainbow, The Pinball Machine and a panoramic cinema.

The Rainbow exhibit, Jost says, represents “the democratic nature of FIFA”. Made up of the national football shirt of all of FIFA’s 209 member nations, the piece is ordered not by world ranking, size, or value, but by colour, creating a visual rainbow of kits. The unique exhibit is designed to symbolise FIFA itself, with no country more powerful than another, each with one vote on world football topics.

The Pinball Machine is another unique feature to the museum. Created as a giant pinball machine, players are given a limited number of footballs, then use their skills to try and score points on a leaderboard.

The museum’s cinema uses a panoramic shooting technique meaning events can be filmed on 360° or 180° screens, as if the viewer is sitting in the stadium watching the match in person.

“It’s a cinema for 50 people with 26 subwoofers,” said Jost. “We made a film cut from all the historic finals. The eight-minute clip makes you relive these moments like you’re there in the final. You experience that buzz, that tension, the vibrations. It’s a fantastic immersive experience.”

The interactive museum also has a number of other stations and exhibitions where you can do things like be a commentator, referee, or even emulate goal celebrations using kinect technology. The current World Cup and Jules Rimet World Cup trophies will also be on display, among a host of other iconic football symbols.

Jost told CLAD/i> he won’t let the current turmoil within FIFA affect the museum. With a new president for the body to be voted in today (February 26) off the back of a corruption scandal within the body, Jost said that will not affect operations at the museum, which has a mission statement to bring people closer to football through knowledge, understanding and enjoyment. He added that the museum would not shy away from the controversy however, which is now part of world football’s history.

“We are a museum. We have to show all facets, good or bad of the development of FIFA,” he said. “With the recent turbulences within FIFA, it’s difficult for us because we don't have the distance. Because it’s an ongoing case we don’t know everything about the investigations so it would be premature to say something right now and then one or two months down the line say ‘oh well that’s wrong or that’s changed’. It will come and we will definitely be presenting it.”

FIFA  Museum  Zurich  Sepp Blatter  Football 
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FIFA’s World Football Museum will launch this weekend in Zurich as a "playful, emotional voyage of discovery for world football,” the project's managing director has told CLAD. Speaking in an exclusive interview, Stefan Jost said that there is a "positive buzz and a lot of anticipation" around the project, which is part of a larger CHF150m (US$151.1m, €137.7m, £108.6m) development which also includes luxury apartments, a restaurant, a sports bar,
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Jost says the museum will show all facets, good or bad, of the development of FIFA / FIFA
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