A lead architect working on the 2018 Russian Soccer World Cup bid believes the FNB stadium in Johannesburg might have been the inspiration behind Russia's Mordovia Arena.
Business Insider South Africa previously reported that the Mordovia Arena in Saransk, Russia, bears a striking resemblance to FNB Stadium in Johannesburg, sharing a similar shape and mosaic-like cladding exterior.
The Russian 2018 World Cup Directorate in Saransk dismissed the similarity as “no more than an accidental coincidence.”
Gonzalo Prieto from Ruben Reddy Architects in Durban, however, said Mordovia Arena looks “very very much” like the FNB Stadium, previously known as Soccer City.
“It is possible that the designer would have seen Soccer City, would’ve liked the idea, and kind of reinterpreted a little. But the difference is not that much, visually,” Prieto told Business Insider South Africa.
“But there are other things, like for example besides the external screen which might be very similar… the capacity is completely different so the scale of the thing is very very different [toFNB Stadium].”
Ruben Reddy Architects was appointed by the Russian bid committee to assess the country’s stadium designs to ensure that they adhere to FIFA requirements.
The firm was also directly involved in the design of four stadiums, but Prieto says he has “never seen [Mordovia Arena’s current design] up until now.”
Out of the designs Ruben Reddy Architects completed for stadiums in Samara, Yaroslavli, Nizhny Novgorod, and Yekaterinburg, only their Yekaterinburg design was incorporated in the final building.
Ruben Reddy Architects previously worked extensively on the South African 2010 World Cup under the local organising committee technical team.
Prieto said that it is not uncommon that stadium designs are replicated across the world.
“At the end of the day you have a football pitch which is always the same, and you’ve got a seating bowl, which there are some variations [which] there is a bit more diversity [for],” Prieto explained.
“So you are left with a facade around, likely, a very common shape, and so then there is a limited number variations that you can do to that facade.”
Prieto said that he’s seen similar stadium designs all across the globe.
“In this case [however it is] not just the form, but the texture and the colours [which] are very similar to Soccer City.”