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Fifa Takes Stand Over Zurich Stadium Plans

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BERNE: FIFA is likely to withdraw a 20 million Swiss francs (13 million pound) financing toward the building of a new stadium in its host city of Zurich because of plans to include standing areas for fans.

“In principle, FIFA does not support any project which does not correspond to its philosophy,” soccer’s governing body said in a statement sent to Reuters. “In respect to the planned stadium construction in Zurich, that means that if the plans are maintained to reserve some places for standing fans, FIFA must rethink its commitment to the promised 20 million Swiss francs.

“FIFA is convinced, that all-seater stadiums guarantee more comfort and, above all, more safety. Therefore, FIFA argue for stadiums which exclusively for seated fans.” Zurich has not had a purpose-built football stadium since the Hardturm, the former home of Grasshoppers Zurich, was closed 2007.

The city government is planning to build a new stadium to open in 2017 which would have a capacity of 16,000 for international games and 19,000 for domestic games and would be used by FC Zurich and Grasshoppers. The total cost is estimated at 150 million Swiss francs.

Both clubs currently stage matches at the Letzigrund athletics stadium, which was used as one of Switzerland’s four venues when the country co-hosted Euro 2008 with Austria. Standing fans are banned in all competitions organised by FIFA and European football’s governing body UEFA, including the World Cup qualifying tournaments and Champions League