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World’s first mobile stadium takes shape

Ras Abu Aboud Stadium, a 40,000-seat temporary venue billed as the world’s first ‘demountable’ stadium, is under construction in Doha, Qatar.

Constructed on an artificial promontory in the district of the same name, Ras Abu Aboud Stadium is being built to a modular design, and partly out of old shipping containers from Doha Port. It is one of eight new venues under construction ahead of the Fifa World Cup football competition in 2022.

The first moveable stadium in World Cup history, Ras Abu Aboud Stadium “will be entirely dismantled and repurposed post-2022, setting a new standard in tournament sustainability and legacy,” according to Supreme Committee for Delivery and Legacy (SC), which is overseeing the Qatar 2022 world cup.

In a tweet sent on Friday (16 October), the SC said the new venue is “slowly taking shape”:

After the tournament, says the SC, the “modular seats and even the roof will be disassembled and reused”.

What they’ll be reused for, however, is still under discussion: the Qatari authorities note its modular design “could provide the building blocks for another 40,000-seat stadium in a different location, or for several different types of sporting or non-sporting venues”.

The Qatar 2022 Fifa World Cup takes place from 21 November to 18 December, with 32 national teams taking part.


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World Cup: Live makes way for football fever

A host of live events in the UK, including major concerts and comedy shows, are being pushed back or altered to accomodate tonight’s Fifa World Cup semifinal, which sees England do battle with Croatia to determine France’s opponents in Sunday’s final.

The last time England were in the semis was 1990, and with the country in the throes of World Cup fever – the Lightning Seeds’ Euro 96 classic ‘Three Lions’ is on course for this week’s no1 single – concert promoters and venues are reluctant to go up against the once-in-a-generation fixture. (Emily Sandé discovered this the hard way when England played Colombia in the knock-out stages during her show on 3 July, and, “halfway through [the] piano ballad ‘Clown’, the most delicate song in her setlist, a raucous cheer broke out from the crowd” after Eric Dier’s penalty kick put England through to the quarter finals.)

Both Justin Timberlake, who is playing the O2, and Niles Rogers and Chic, who are performing at Alnwick Castle in Northumberland, will screen the 7pm match before their shows, with Chic promoter Cuffe & Taylor electing to bump Sister Sledge off the bill in favour of the Three Lions.

“We fully understand that when it comes to England reaching the semifinals of the World Cup, people feel torn if they have other plans,” says Cuffe & Taylor director Peter Taylor. “Therefore, we’ve decided it is only right to show the big game on our stage screens so everyone who is attending the Nile Rodgers and Chic show can still see England perform, too.”

Girl group All Saints, who are playing Electric Brixton (1,500-cap.) in London, will now take to the stage at the later time of 9.30pm. “The people have spoken and we have listened,” reads a statement from the venue. “We’ll now be showing [the] World Cup semifinal match on a huge screen before our All Saints Show.”

Comedians Jason Manford and Chris Ramsey, meanwhile, have axed stand-up gigs in Stevenage and Ulverston, respectively, with Manford tweeting that he’s “bow[ing] under the weight of an expectant and hopeful nation”. Both shows will be rescheduled for a later date.

One event that won’t be showing the football is DEAG/Kilimanjaro Live’s Kew the Music, which continues in Kew Gardens, west London, tonight. A Kew Gardens spokesperson says while it won’t be showing the football ahead of this evening’s Gipsy Kings show, which kicks off at 8.45pm, it will be displaying the scores around the concert site.

AEG’s British Summer Time – halfway through its free-to-access midweek programme, ahead of another weekend of music from Paul Simon, Michael Bublé and Bruno Mars – will screen the game in Hyde Park tonight, after handing out 30,000 free tickets in a ballot yesterday afternoon.

As for the songs that will be played at Luzhniki Stadium for the match itself, Queen’s sporting anthem ‘We Will Rock You’ joins Imagine Dragons’ ‘Thunder’ and two K-pop hits, BTS’s ‘Fake Love’ and EXO’s ‘Power’, as the soundtrack for the evening. The songs emerged as the top four choice in a poll organised by Fifa, which saw around five million people vote on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Instagram.

Looking ahead to the weekend, and Sunday 15 July’s France vs England/Croatia final, several live music events have similarly confirmed their intention to screen the game. According to the NME, Latitude, Citdel and Lovebox in the UK will be showing the final (with Paul Simon-headlined BST expected to follow), as well as Dour Festival in Belgium.

In France, meanwhile – the one nation confirmed to be in Sunday’s match – even hip-hop royalty are making way for the World Cup. Beyoncé and Jay-Z will play to a jubilant/despondent crowd at the Stade de France on Sunday night, following a screening of the game prior to the show.

“Twenty years after the French team’s first World Cup win, Beyoncé and Jay-Z invite those who have a ticket for their concert to present themselves at the Stade de France at 4pm in order to be able to enjoy, on the stadium’s big screens, […] the Blues’ final victory,” reads a statement from Live Nation France.


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Fifa trials ‘obese’ tickets for 2017 cup

Fifa’s special-access tickets (SAT) for the upcoming Confederations Cup in Russia will be offered to ‘obese persons’ at no extra cost.

For the first time, those with a body mass index (BMI) of 35kg/m² will join those with disabilities and wheelchair users in being eligible to purchase SATs for the popular football tournament, which acts as a prelude to next year’s World Cup.

According to organiser Fifa (Fédération Internationale de Football Association), those wishing to purchase “Obese Person Tickets [will require] presentation of a signed doctor’s note stating the person’s BMI”.

“For Obese Person Tickets, presentation of a signed doctor’s note stating the person’s BMI will be required”

However, unlike those with disabilities, obese persons will not be eligible for a +1 for a companion.

According to The Independent, Fifa first introduced extra-wide seats for overweight fans at the 2014 World Cup in Brazil, which were advertised with a 50% discount if a doctor’s note could be provided.

The Confederations Cup will run from 17 June to 2 July 2017, with the World Cup, also in Russia, following on 14 June–15 July 2018. There will be no concerts in the run-up to the event, with Fifa having banned live music in stadia an effort to prevent damage to pitches.


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Fifa bans pre-World Cup concerts

Football’s international governing body, the Fédération Internationale de Football Association (Fifa), has banned concerts taking place in World Cup stadia ahead of 2018’s tournament in Russia.

Under the new regulations, published on Monday, venues hosting World Cup 2018 matches will be off limits to non-footballing events for two months in advance of the start of the competition. The only exemption is for stadia which have “Fifa’s explicit prior approval in writing”.

World Cup 2018 Stadia will be off limits for concerts two months prior to the start of the tournament

The ruling comes after controversy over the state of pitch surfaces at the 2014 World Cup in Brazil and the Uefa Euro 2016 championship in France earlier this year. In June the French national team’s manager, Didier Deschamps, blamed a recent AC/DC show for the poor state of the pitch for his team’s clash with Albania at the Stade Velodrome (67,394-cap.) in Marseilles.

“It’s a disaster, but that’s not surprising,” he said. “If you have an AC/DC concert a month before the European Championships— they’re changing the pitch, relaying the turf.”


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