Shakhtar Donetsk v Fulham: Donbass Arena hints at eastern Europe's growing stature

24 February 2010 06:52
Yet, sat in the centre, like a brightly-lit blue spaceship, sits the Donbass Arena, Ukrainian football's pride and joy.

On Thursday night, Fulham become the first English side to enjoy the extravagance and style this remarkable arena offers. The city, twinned with Sheffield, may be a testament to the lure of industrial wealth, but the new stadium hints at eastern European football's growing stature.

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The $400 million, 51,000 seat dome has already staged concerts by stars such as Beyonce Knowles, having been designed by the same company that saw the building of the City of Manchester Stadium, Munich's Allianz Arena and the home of the Olympic games, the Beijing National Stadium.

It boasts an exceptional engineering solution the soaring roof effect which gives the effect of a flying saucer, and as Fulham's players witnessed before training last night, external lighting makes the stadium shine like a beacon.

The stadium, situated in the Lenin Comsomol park, is so at odds with the city, where both Arsenal and Tottenham have lost. In 1869 little existed here until Hughes established a steel mill and coal mines. The city was, as a result, originally named Yuzovka, and as a testament to his influence, one of the oldest structures here is the Hotel Great Britain, which dates from 1883, and continuing the English theme, there is also a Hotel Liverpool.

Indeed, there is something alluring about this city; punk legend and former Clash frontman Joe Strummer included a song entitled 'Shakhtar Donetsk' on his 2001 album Global A Go-Go.

A near sell-out crowd has been urged to spur on the 'Motherland', in what is the first game here since December following the long Ukrainian winter break. It may be minus one degree centigrade or colder -- for the game, but the heat will be turned up when the men they call the Miners attempt to bury the Cottagers.

Source: Telegraph