Fifa orders investigation for empty seats at Uruguay’s World Cup win over Egypt

Fifa is looking into why there were more than 6,000 unoccupied seats at Uruguay’s 1-0 win against Egypt on Ekaterinburg’s first day of World Cup action. Although the two looming ends of the ground were largely full, there were swaths of empty orange seats down both sides. “We can confirm that the official attendance for the match between Egypt and Uruguay in Ekaterinburg is 27,015,” a Fifa spokesman said. “The Fifa World Cup stadium capacity is 33,061. The fact that the actual attendance is lower than the number of allocated tickets can be due to different factors, including ‘no shows’ on match day, which Fifa is currently investigating.  There were also problems with a complicated queueing system. All morning, at various venues throughout the city, there were long lines stretching from venues handing out the fan IDs necessary to gain access to the ground.

Those laminated cards were enough to get supporters into the concourse but once there they had to queue again to receive a wrist band that allowed them into the stadium. “It was very confusing,” said one Egypt fan. “We didn’t know which line was which, so you found you had been queueing for ages for beer or merchandise, not access. There were lots of very helpful volunteers, but I’m not sure they were well directed.”

The most striking features of the stadium in Ekaterinburg are the enormous temporary stands that stretch up above the roof at both ends of the ground. The local sports minister Leonid Rapaport was unconcerned by the curiosity the stands had provoked. “They are really very stable,” he said last week. “And these stands are made of the famous Urals metal.” He had also pre-empted the blustery winds and smattering of rain that made life for those in the upper rows uncomfortable. “There is a Russian saying that for nature, there is no bad weather …,” he said. “[If it does rain] partly it will cool down the players on the pitch – and also the supporters in the stand.”

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