Soccer-Zurich voters reject new soccer stadium

Reuters

BERNE, Sept 22 (Reuters) - FIFA's home city of Zurich will remain without a purpose-built soccer stadium for the foreseeable future after voters rejected plans for a new arena in a referendum on Sunday.

The decision means that the city's two top flight clubs FC Zurich and Grasshoppers will continue to use the Letzigrund athletics stadium, often criticised for its lukewarm atmosphere, for their home games.

"The city council accepts the decision but regrets that the football city of Zurich will not have an adequate arena for a very long time," the city government said in a statement.

Zurich has not had a main soccer stadium since the Hardturm, the former home of Grasshoppers Zurich, was closed 2007.

FIFA had initially offered to contribute 20 million Swiss francs ($21.94 million) towards the stadium last year but withdrew the offer because of plans to include standing areas.

World soccer's governing body, which prefers all-seater arenas, instead donated the money to grass-roots football projects in Zurich. ($1 = 0.9116 Swiss francs) (Writing by Brian Homewood, editing by Tom Bartlett)

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