Since the 2018 Soccer World Cup is fast approaching, Russia has been making changes to accommodate the large number of tourists flooding in to attend. However, The World Cup stadium in Mordovia, Russia opened its doors recently – and it bears a striking resemblance to Johannesburg's FNB Stadium. The Russian stadium was under construction back in 2010 when the FNB stadium had already been built and they both have the same calabash shape with mosaic decoration along the outside.
Bob van Bebber, director at architecture firm Boogertman + Partners, told Business Insider South Africa that “Copying is the highest act of flattery,” and that even though there are very distinct similarities, he is not offended. Van Bebber added: “I also notice from the description that the seats are also orange. 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.”
The Russian designer responsible for the building of the stadium, Saransk Grazhdan Proekt, built one of the nine stadiums appointed to accommodate the FIFA World Cup, which was officially completed at the end of April. Van Bebber says it is quite unusual to copy architectural designs. “That said, very few ideas are truly original, so it is not uncommon to get some rethinking of an idea,” Van Bebber explained. “It would [however] be impossible for me to say that our design for the Soccer City stadium was used as inspiration for the design of this stadium."
ITV, however, reported that the mosaic and colour patterns on the outside of the arena took after Mordovia’s folk art whereas the FNB stadium was inspired by a calabash and the cladding is said to represent fire and earth. The new Russian stadium will host its first match on the 19th of June.