Russians say their 2018 World Cup stadium’s similarity to FNB stadium is 'accidental coincidence'

Business Insider SA
  • The Russian 2018 World Cup Directorate said similarities between its Mordovia Arena stadium and Johannesburg FNB stadium is “an accidental coincidence”.
  • Apart from having almost exactly the same shape, the Russian stadium's mosaic-like cladding exterior looks eerily similar to the FNB stadium. 
  • The Russians said the design of the Mordovia Arena changed several times and is supposed to represent the sun. The FNB stadium represents a Calabash. 

The outward similarity of Russia’s Mordovia Arena stadium with Johannesburg’s FNB stadium is “no more than an accidental coincidence”, the Russian 2018 World Cup Directorate said on Tuesday afternoon. 

“But we certainly like the resemblance to the [FNB] stadium, which hosted the opening matches and the finals of the FIFA World Cup in 2010,” the directorate in Saransk told Business Insider South Africa in written answers. 

Business Insider previously reported that the Mordovia Arena in Saransk, Russia, bears a striking resemblance to FNB Stadium, sharing a similar shape and mosaic-like cladding exterior.

READ: Russia's 2018 World Cup stadium looks suspiciously like the FNB Stadium – but the SA architect is not offended

Work on the 44,000 seater stadium started in 2010, when the FNB stadium was long completed, and was officially opened at the end of April.

Location of the Mordovia Arena in Russia (Screenshot)

The Russian World Cup Directorate said work on the design of Mordovia Arena lasted more than a year and features several changes. 

It said the building’s structure and red, blue, and white colour scheme was changed several times during this process. 

“The final version of visualization is connected to a greater degree with the symbols of the Republic of Mordovia, which in our country is called ‘solar’,” the directorate said. 

“In addition, the sun to Mordovian people embodies the source of life, joy [and] a [new] beginning.” 

The FNB stadium was inspired by a calabash and the cladding is said to resemble fire and earth. Its architects previously told Business Insider SA that they are “not offended” by the similarities with the Russian stadium. 

“Copying is the highest act of flattery,” Bob van Bebber, director at architecture firm Boogertman + Partners, said. 

Van Bebber says there are "very distinct similarities" in the pattern on the façade of the stadium.

“I also notice from the description that the seats are also orange,” Van Bebber added. “Maybe another coincidental similarity [with the FNB stadium].” 

“Not that we are accusing them of copying. I think our narrative which informed the design of Soccer City [FNB Stadium], will definitely be different to their narrative if they have one.”

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