Outer space: the Russia World Cup stadium with a novel seating extension

Architects working on the Ekaterinburg Arena have come up with a unique answer to the tricky question of how to fulfill World Cup minimum capacity of 35,000 spectators

World Cup stadia come in all shapes and sizes but next year’s tournament in Russia will violate new ground with fans at one venue seated outside.

Architects working on the Ekaterinburg Arena have come up with a unique answer to the tricky topic: how do you seat the Fifa-sanctioned minimum of 35,000 spectators when the stadium has a capability of many thousands less? Simply build a stand outside.

FIFA World Cup (@ FIFAWorldCup)

The Ekaterinburg Arena is beginning to look

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Morocco to challenge North American joint bid to host 2026 World Cup

Morocco announced a last-minute challenge to the joint proposal of the United States, Mexico and Canada for the right to host the 2026 World Cup

Morocco has announced it will bid to host the 2026 World Cup, positioning itself as a last-minute challenger to the joint bid from the United States, Mexico and Canada.

The Moroccan football federation unveiled the bid on Friday with a brief two-sentence statement, corroborating it had submitted a formal application to the relevant Fifa committees. The announcement came hours before Fifas deadline for countries to confirm their intention to bid, and denies the North American bid an unopposed victory at the eleventh hour.

The US-Mexico-Canada bid, first reported by the Guardian and formally announced at an April news conference in New York City, remains the overwhelming favorite to win hosting rights for the 2026 tournament. A successful joint bid would mark the first time the Football world cup has been hosted by multiple countries since the 2002 tournament in South Korea and Japan.

Under the proposal, the US will host 60 games including every match from the quarter-finals onwards with Mexico and Canada dividing the remaining 20 fixtures equally. The United States previously hosted the Football world cup in 1994, and that 24 -team, 52 -match tournament still holds the attendance record( with nearly 3.6 million spectators ), despite a subsequent expansion of the format to 32 squads and 64 matches.

Mexico hosted the tournament in 1970 and 1986, while Canada hosted the womens World Cup in 2015.

In May, Fifa announced a four-stage bidding process for the 2026 tournament with a final decision in May 2020. It later confirmed that the previous two World Cup hosts, Europe and Asia, will not be eligible to host the tournament.

That left North Americas Concacaf( which last hosted in 1994 ), Africas CAF( which last hosted in 2010 ), South Americas Conmebol( Brazil in 2014) and Oceanias OFC( never ).

The CAF offered its backing to the Moroccan bid last month, and Morocco could spring an upset if it can broker an adequate voting confederation. Europe has 55 members in the Congress, Africa 54, Asia 46, Concacaf 35, Oceania 11 and South America 10.

Fifa will now inspect the two finalists bids and report to the governing bodys member associations by March. The final referendum will take place at the Fifa congress in June.

Weve always been prepared for the fact that other countries could also decide to bid for the 2026 FIFA World Cup, US Soccer president Sunil Gulati said in a statement on Friday. Competition is good, and overall it shows the value and importance of the World Cup.

Over the next eight months weve got a lot of work to do.

The North American bid is bolstered by a fleet of gleaming new NFL stadia built over the past two decades that are suitable for international matches, which puts it in step with the cost-conscious, infrastructure-ready leanings of the day.

But Morocco, which would become only the second African nation to host a World Cup after South Africa in 2010, has six soccer stadiums with 45,000 seats or more already in use, meaning it would not require as much new construction as previous host nations.

The North African country with long coastlines along the Atlantic Ocean and Mediterranean Sea previously bid for the Football world cup in 1994, 1998, 2006 and 2010.

Two years ago, the Daily Telegraph reported that Morocco had, in fact, won the vote to host the 2010 competitor even though Fifa awarded the tournament to South Africa. Morocco also came close in its campaign for the 1998 tournament, losing to France in the final round by a margin of 12 to seven.

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Chuck Blazer, former Fifa official turned whistleblower, dies aged 72

American former executive committee member was a central figure in the Fifa corruption scandal

Chuck Blazer, the controversial and flamboyant American former Fifa official, has died, according to his lawyers.

The cause of his death, at persons under the age of 72, is not yet clear, but in 2013 he told national courts he had rectal cancer, diabetes and coronary artery disease.

The former Fifa executive committee member, who was also the general secretary of Concacaf, was a central figure in the Fifa corruption scandal.

In that 2013 tribunal appearance, he admitted to accepting bribes over the 1998 and 2010 World Cup bids and, when that datum was made public two years later, was handed a lifetime banning from all football-related activities by Fifa.

He turned whistleblower to aid the US government in its investigations into corruption within footballs world governing body and played a crucial role in the downfall of its long-time president, Sepp Blatter, and in prompting promises of reform within the organisation.

In a statement, his lawyers Eric Corngold and Mary Mulligan said Blazer had been instrumental in the development of football in the region, and his misconduct should not obscure Chucks positive impact on international football.

The statement continued: Chuck felt profound sorrow and sadnes for his action. He expressed sincere compunction towards his former constituents and colleagues, and to all of the soccer players disappointed by his conduct.

Blazer was also known for his eccentricity. A resident of New York, he rented an apartment in Trump Tower along with a separate unit just for his cats, according to reports. He was often assured around the city with his pet macaw on his shoulder.

More to follow.

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