Football Soccer Stadiums of the world

Football Soccer Stadiums of the world

Europe a whistle-stop tour of four years Part 4

Football, soccer, the world game, whatever you choose to call it I love it. Not only is football great to participate in or watch, it has the ability to tear apart friendships, even families, but also has the power to bring people together. It creates argument, debate and can be a substitute for language in foreign lands. It is remarkable how many travellers can be in the remotest parts of the globe without the local lingo, but one mention of a football game or better yet having a football can bring people of all backgrounds together. Join us at Football Soccer Stadiums of the world.

Football Soccer Stadiums of the World Dublin to Rio

From the remote plains of Mongolia to the streets of a Rio Favela, the beautiful game is played with every child and adult recreating their heroes favourite moments. As a lover of the game since childhood I have been fortunate to attend some great clashes over the years from watching my beloved Manchester United playing at Old Trafford to Barcelona at the Camp Nou to the European Championships in Poland at International level.

Football Soccer Stadiums of the world

Not only is it a pleasure to see world-class players in action it is a thrill to attend such magnificent stadiums and arenas. Such is my obsession with the game that I make it my mission to visit, or at least glimpse stadiums as part of our sightseeing.

Here are just some of the famous and not so famous arenas we have seen on our travels so far.

Aviva stadium, Dublin, Ireland.

Football Soccer Stadiums of the world

Where better to start than my country’s home venue and a stadium I have visited numerous times, be it during the old and passionate days of Lansdowne Road with the famous roar, to the modern 21st century venue it is today. Aside from sitting in all areas of the stadium I have had the pleasure of a stadium tour. Here you will see the press conference room, home dressing rooms, players’ tunnel, dugouts and more. It showcases 150 years of Irish Sporting History with some memorable images from the old Lansdowne Road stadium. The tour lasts for approximately one hour and also takes you into the VIP areas, media hub and pitch side. It is built on the site of the former Lansdowne Road stadium, which was demolished in 2007, and replaced it as home to its chief tenants: the Irish rugby union team and the Republic of Ireland football team. The stadium was modelled on many of Europe’s modern stadia with environment considerations at the forefront of the design. The innovative transparent polycarbonate roof & façade design maximises daylight to the building interior, the pitch and surrounding residential/commercial properties. Use of EcoCem in the building of the stadium reduced the embodied energy of the building while also achieving a high standard of finish in the concrete. The CO2 saving achieved is calculated at 4000 tonnes, or 6,896,500 kWh of electricity. Water conservation through waterless urinals, sensor taps and dual flush cisterns.  Rainwater is harvested for use in the pitch irrigation system. The 320,000 litre tank is sufficient for approx. 7 days irrigation.

The stadium has high tiered seating occupying three-quarters of the stadium until you get to the North stand. Fans arriving at the ground and not knowing anything of the history of Lansdowne Road could be forgiven for thinking that the owners of the stadium just ran out of money and plan to finish off the stand at a later date but in fact the stadium just ran out of space! Unlike a handful of football clubs who have been able to purchase houses, re-locate residents and then demolish surrounding housing to expand their stadium-Liverpool’s Anfield, or Blackburn Rovers’ Ewood Park for example, the FAI and IRFU were never in the position to follow suite, resulting in a consultation period with local residents who previously had the open North end terrace of the old Lansdowne Road stadium backing onto their properties. Currently the stadium is an excellent asset to Irish sport but its re-incarnation has somewhat taken away from the intimidating atmosphere of the old ground. Gone are the days of a tight intimidating ground where the roar lifted the hairs on the back of the players necks making it somewhat of a fortress. Today the ground seems to lack any real atmosphere especially at the football games with many empty seats frequently visible. The developers did however retain some of the old stadium spirit with the demolished remains of the old ground being buried under the new pitch, so not all is lost.

Camp Nou, Barcelona, Spain.

Europe a whistle-stop tour of four years Part 4

Back in 1999 during a school trip to Barcelona we were taken on a tour of the iconic Camp Nou in Barcelona. One of Europe’s biggest and most famous theatres which is not just a football stadium but a church for all of Catalonia to worship in. Legends of the game such as Maradona, Stoichkov, Romario, Cruyff, Ronaldinho, Figo and Laudrup have all graced this magnificent arena.

It is fascinating to walk around the trophy room before making your way out into the stands, some years later I was fortunate to attend a live game where Lionel Messi unsurprisingly done the damage with Iniesta and Xavi pulling the strings in a 4-2 win over Real Betis. From our seat way up in the heavens you could truly appreciate this magnificent venue with a capacity over nearly 100,000 people. Camp Nou has been used for various purposes other than football, often hosting major concerts. Pope John Paul II celebrated mass for a congregation of over 121,000 at Camp Nou on 17 November 1982, on the occasion being made an honorary citizen of Barcelona. With a seating capacity of 99,354, it is the largest stadium in Spain by capacity. It is also the largest stadium in Europe and the 2nd largest association football stadium in the world in terms of capacity. It has hosted numerous international matches at a senior level, including a 1982 FIFA World Cup semi-final match, two UEFA Champions League finals and the football competition at the 1992 Summer Olympics. If you get a chance to visit this city don’t leave a visit to the Camp Nou off your itinerary.


Estádio do Dragão, Porto, Portugal.

Football Soccer Stadiums of the world

During our short stay in Porto in 2013 one of our first ports of call was the Estádio do Dragão. Unfortunately no tours or games were on when we arrived but we could walk around its perimeter and glimpse onto the pitch and stands. The stadium is impressive located on a hill overlooking the city with easy access from all points of the city by train having its own metro station. It has a current capacity stands of 50,035, making it the third largest football ground in Portugal. The stadium’s name is derived from the presence of a dragon on the club’s crest, in 2004 the stadium hosted several Euro 2004 games including a semi-final.

Arena Naţională, Bucharest, Romania.

Football Soccer Stadiums of the world

Another modern and impressive stadium this time in Romania. I got the chance to visit as Manchester United were playing FC Oțelul Galați in the Champions League back in 2011. This stadium is the home of FC Dinamo Bucureşti but due to the small size of Galati’s home ground, the game was relocated to the recently opened (2011) stadium. The Arena Naţională is located in the east of Bucharest, slightly more than 4 kilometres from the city centre. Bucharest’s main railway station (Gara de Nord), which lies north-west of the centre, is about 7 kilometres away from the stadium. We had to contend with seats in the away end so kept quiet as United won 2-0 on the night. The stadium is also the home of the Romanian national team and in addition in 2012, hosted the Europa League final between Atlético de Madrid and Club Athletic (3-0).

Olympiastadion, Berlin, Germany.

Football Soccer Stadiums of the world

During our visit to Berlin in 2013 we had time to catch a train to a European stadium steeped in history. Today the Olympiastadion is home to Hertha BSC in the Bundesliga but it is its past history that is more fascinating. After renovations in 2004 the Olympiastadion offers a permanent capacity of 74,475 seats and is the largest stadium in Germany for international football matches. Olympiastadion is a UEFA category four stadium and one of the world’s most prestigious venues for sporting and entertainment events. Despite the renovations there are many original features on display from the 1936 Olympic games held here. You pay to enter the stadium but are free to wander into the stands and the surrounding area. As stated previously the stadium is a mix of the modern with the roof extended to cover a total of 37,000 square metres, with 20 roof-supporting columns carrying a weight of 3,500 tonnes of steel. In the stadium grounds are the 1936 Olympic bell, The Bell Tower of Berlin Olympic Stadium was a 77 metres high observation tower that was built in 1934 after plans by Professor Werner March. After the Second World War the Soviet troops accidentally set the tower’s contents on fire and it was no longer stable. Therefore the British engineers blew it up in 1947.

The Olympic Bell – weighing 9.60 tons, which had survived the fire and remained in its place in the tower – fell 77 metres, cracked and has been unable to sound since then. In 1956 the bell was rescued, only in order to be used as a practice target using anti-tank ammunition. The bell survives to this day and serves now as a memorial. The stadium is also a reminder of when the Nazis came to power in Germany (1933), they decided to use the Olympic Games in 1936 for propaganda purposes. With these plans in mind, Adolf Hitler ordered the construction of a great sports complex in Grunewald named the “Reichssportfeld” with a totally new Olympiastadion. On exiting the stadium you pass through a souvenir gift shop with videos from the World cup in 2006 an interesting watch.

Estadio Centenario, Montevideo, Uruguay.

Football Soccer Stadiums of the world

The Centenario Stadium was very impressive and the football museum attached was an added bonus. For $US4 each we walked around the interesting museum showing the stadiums history with memorabilia from its establishment in 1930.

The most impressive aspect were the many trophies, including replicas of the Jules Rimet cup, which Uruguay won twice, including the final at the stadium in 1930. An audio-visual presentation was also provided that showed archive footage from the final in 1930. From here we headed to the next floor where we could walk out in the stands of the stadium and take pictures with the impressive tower called the Tower of Tributes to Olympic Champions of 1924 and 1928 (Uruguay won Olympic soccer gold medals in 1924 and 1928, and the FIFA World Cup Championships in 1930 and 1950. The tower has nine balconies representing nines stripes of the Uruguayan flag and also two wings representing the wings of an aeroplane and a boat bow (these were the most important means of transport at the time).

In the stadium there is also a police station and a school with lessons going on while we were there. The stadium tour was excellent and great value, with Paula, who gets dragged to these stadiums, highly enjoying the experience. A must visit for any football fan, you won’t be disappointed.

Estadio Nacional Julio Martínez Prádanos, Santiago, Chile.

Football Soccer Stadiums of the world

One of the best stadiums I have visited for one reason, I got to walk on the pitch! Many supporters who have visited stadiums around the world will be familiar with this warning sign “please stay off the grass”, security is so strict that I once witnessed an official at Old Trafford reprimanding a fan because he touched the edge of the pitch with his finger! We took the train from the city which took about thirty minutes and made the 25 minute walk to the stadium. Upon reaching the perimeter we realised the main entrance was on the far side so walked in the intense heat around its vast perimeter. At the main gate we politely asked could we go inside and the lady said “No problem, Gate 7”.

We apprehensively walked towards gate 7 feeling like we were doing something wrong, usually it’s not this easy to just wander around a national stadium un-escorted. Upon entry into gate 7 and with nobody in sight we walked onto the athletic track and directly onto the pitch. Some workers appeared but nobody told us off! It was an amazing experience to enter this stadium without a fee and with freedom of movement. It is the largest stadium in Chile with an official capacity of 48,665. It is part of a 62 hectare sporting complex which also features tennis courts, an aquatics centre, a modern gymnasium, a velodrome, a BMX circuit, and an assistant ground/warm-up athletics track. Construction began in February 1937 and the stadium was inaugurated on December 3, 1938.

The architecture was based on the Olympiastadion in Berlin, Germany. Similar to the Olympiastadion the stadium has a controversial history as it was notoriously used as a prison camp and torture facility by the military regime following the 1973 Chilean coup d’état. Today, the ground serves as the home field for both the national team and the first-division club Universidad de Chile. It also hosts non-sporting events, such as political celebrations, charity events and concerts.

MCG, Melbourne, Australia.

Football Soccer Stadiums of the world

An iconic landmark in the city of Melbourne and a stadium I have visited on a few occasions. The Melbourne Cricket Ground, MCG or simply the “G” is the 10th-largest stadium in the world, the largest in Australia, the largest in the Southern Hemisphere, the largest cricket ground by capacity, and has the tallest light towers of any sporting venue. The MCG is remembered as the centrepiece stadium of the 1956 Summer Olympics, the 2006 Commonwealth Games and two Cricket World Cups: 1992 and 2015. What I like about this stadium aside from its excellent location and ease of transport access, is the fact that it is utilised to the fullest extent. Many stadiums around the world are so-called “white elephants”, built at a huge expense to the taxpayer and only used sparingly. Come to the MCG at any time of year and you are guaranteed an event.

During the AFL season between April and September there are games regularly taking place over the course of the weekend with the highlight being the Grand Final, Before the ground was fully seated, the Grand Final could draw attendances above 110,000. The record for the highest attendance in the history of the sport was set in the 1970 VFL Grand Final, with 121,696 in attendance. Since being fully seated, Grand Final attendances are typically between 95,000 and 100,000, with the record of 100,016 attending the first 2010 AFL Grand Final. Other sports such as Cricket and soccer are also played here with many statues honouring all the various codes lining the stadiums vast circumference. Legends such as Ron Barassi (Australian rules football player), Don Bradman (cricket player), Dennis Lillee (cricket player), Shirley Strickland (track and field) and Jim Stynes (Australian rules football player) are honoured here located on the Avenue of Legends.

The Maracanã Stadium (Portuguese: Estádio do Maracanã), Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

Football Soccer Stadiums of the world

How could I not talk about stadiums we visited without mentioning The Maracanã Stadium. From early childhood I read about this stadium with a capacity of 200,000 and dreamed of playing here someday Well half my dream came true, I walked out pitch side, sat in the dugouts and headed into the dressing rooms, unfortunately notas a player but you can’t win em all. When we arrived in Rio I made it my mission to visit even if it meant a long day trip The day before we walked to the top of Corcovado and to the beautiful Christ the Redeemer statue which appeared to bless the stadium below in the distance. We started the day in Leblon by catching the bus for Reals 3.50, for this price you would be taken to General Osorió station, Ipanema and given a single trip on the subway system.

Maracanã has its very own stop about 16 stops away and the efficient underground service had us at the stadium in about 30 minutes or so. Upon exiting the station, the magnificent Maracanã stadium stood in front of us, no huge crowds but you could still feel a special atmosphere in the air, especially so soon after this summers world cup finals (2014). We purchased the guided tour for 40 Reals ($16 Dollars), there was a non guided tour available for 30 Reals ($12 Dollars) but we opted for the more detailed guided tour. We entered the arena where there were exhibits showcasing the Brazilian greats such as Garrincha, Zico and of course Pelé. There was even recognition of Pope John Paul II visits and the Queen and King of England who were there to witness Pelé’s 900th career goal. After being shown around the VIP area and hospitality area we were taken into the dressing rooms where jerseys hung belonging to 2014 World cup’s most impressive players.

From here we were taken through the tunnel and pitch side where our guide pointed out the features of the stadium including new roof and water recycling system. After an hour the tour concluded in the press room before you could have a try at scoring some penalties on a computer simulator. Paula took the bragging rights by scoring more than me but it was harder than it looked!! The stadium lived up to all expectations however I regret not going for a game but some day I hope to return. So there it is, just some of the impressive football stadia I have been lucky enough to visit. Although many were off-limits or required a guided tour, it is the stadiums you can just wander up to and enter for free that are the most interesting.

Back in 2008 whilst in Vientiane, Laos, I stumbled upon a stadium that I freely entered without questioning. Although the stadium was quite small I was still happy to see it. I have ambled by stadiums in Sofia, Bulgaria, Minsk, Belarus and Dynamo stadium, Kiev as shown but without access. Football truly is the World game and stadium spotting is just another museum of the people. None however can compare to the Theatre of Dreams, Old Trafford, Manchester on a European night.

Football Soccer Stadiums of the world

Football Soccer Stadiums of the world
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Football Soccer Stadiums of the world
Football Soccer Stadiums of the world. Our guide to some of the wonderful sporting arenas visited by us around the globe.
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Continent Chasers
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