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FIFA orders staff cuts but World Football Museum survives

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The FIFA World Football Museum is still alive and kicking though redundancies have been made – with possibly more to come – after a review of its challenging first year in operation.

Gianni Infantino, president of the world federation, ordered a study of the options for what had been a vanity project launched by disgraced predecessor Sepp Blatter. Blatter had been banished from the game by the time the museum finally opened its doors early last year.

A study group set up last November under joint deputy general secretary Zvonimir Boban had concluded that everything should be done to reduce costs. However closure was out of the question because of complications over the long-term lease on the premises in central Zurich.

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 sudden 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 projected loss for the first year of operation at around CHF30m is not out of the ordinary, according to arts industry experts, however it is not the sort of old-regime legacy which Infantino and secretary-general Fatma Samoura would ideally wish to perpetuate.

Hence the cutting already of eight staff posts with possibly more to go.

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.”

The museum takes up three floors and features interactive entertainments, a cafe, bistro and library.

Initial projections forecast 250,000 visitors annually however the reality has been 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.

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