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Exclusive: Brand new FIFA museum won't shy away from controversies, says MD

By Tom Anstey    26 Feb 2016
Jost says the museum will show all facets, good or bad, of the development of FIFA / FIFA

Stefan Jost, managing director of FIFA’s World Football Museum in Zurich, has said he won’t let turmoil within the body affect the museum as it prepares for its launch this weekend.

With a new FIFA president 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,” said Jost, speaking exclusively to Attractions Management ahead of the museum’s opening.

“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.”

First announced by then-FIFA president Sepp Blatter in 2012, the 3,000sq m (32,300sq ft) museum is part of a larger CHF150m (US$151.1m, €137.7m, £108.6m) development which includes the CHF30m (US$30.2m, €27.5m, £21.7m) museum, in addition to luxury apartments, a restaurant, a sports bar, a shop, FIFA office space and a conference centre.

Originally an 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.

“What the visitor experiences is a playful, emotional voyage of discovery for world football,” said Jost. “We have 15 interactive stations, eight of which are games you can play. 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 8-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.

“It’s intense right now with preparations and meetings but that’s ok, that’s part of the job part of what we’re here for,” said Jost. “There’s this anticipation, this positive buzz and we can’t wait for it to open after so many months of intense work. 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.”

The Pinball Machine is unique feature to the museum, creating a pinball-style course for visitors to test out their footballing skills / FIFA
Made up of the national football shirt of all of FIFA’s 209 member nations, The Rainbow is ordered not by world ranking, size, or value, but by colour, creating a visual rainbow of kits / FIFA
Design agency Triad Berlin Projektgesellschaft handled exhibition design, which focuses on play and interactivity / FIFA
The museum’s cinema uses a panoramic shooting technique / FIFA
The interactive museum also has a number of other stations and exhibitions / FIFA
Galaxy of Balls recreates the universe using various types of football / FIFA
A wall of history tells the entire modern history of world football chronologically / FIFA
FIFA  Museum  Zurich  Sepp Blatter  Football 
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