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RealSport’s Top 20 Stadiums in World Football

With images of Liga MX side Monterrey's new stadium going viral, here are twenty more football arenas that would catch the eye of any fan...


The Estadio BBVA Bancomer – nicknamed ‘The Steel Giant’ by locals – has had to wait for two years to gain the accreditation that it deserves. The stadium was opened in 2015, after four years of construction, and now houses 52,000 Monterrey fans for the four-time Mexican champions’ matches.

On its own, it’s a beautifully sleek modern stadium, but it’s the surroundings that make it unique. The stadium sits on an ecological park and boasts magical views of the Cerro de la Silla from the northern side of the stadium.

Inspired by the breath-taking Mexican effort, here are twenty more unique stadiums that bring more than just the pitch to the live football experience…

  1. 1 La Bombonera (Buenos Aires, Argentina)


    Team: Boca Juniors 

    Capacity: 49,000

    The 'sweet-box' is one of the homes of football, and globally renowned as one of the most explosive cauldrons on the planet. 

    The vibrant yellow and blue colours of Boca Juniors are aesthetically excellent - especially during the choreographed show of support before the derby against River Plate - and the constant home support causes tremors throughout the concrete of the stands. 

    The vertical stand on one side of La Bombonera divides the pitch from the local neighbourhoods of La Boca, and causes the noise from the fans to reverberate around the fiery pot of football history. 

    (I had the fortune of attending a Boca Juniors match in November last year and, trust me, it certainly doesn't disappoint.)

  2. 2 Estádio Municipal de Braga (Braga, Portugal)


    Team: Sporting Braga

    Capacity: 30,286

    This stadium caught the eye of many during Euro 2004, as fans were baffled at the absence of a stand behind one of the goals.

    In its place is a cliff-side. Yep, a big, old slab of rock. It's football and nature at one, and brings back memories of playground football when a concrete wall was all we had to kick the ball against. 

    This is no gimmick though. The stadium homes top Portuguese side Sporting Braga and was deemed as a ground worthy of hosting both European Championship games and the 2011 Europa League final - won by Andre Villas-Boas, Falcao, Hulk and co. 

  3. 3 Stade Vélodrome (Marseille, France)


    Team: Olympique Marseille

    Capacity: 67,394

    Just look at this. The (practically) brand-new, webbed masterpiece looks like something constructed by Spiderman himself. 

    The arena, built for Euro 2016, is arguably the best-looking stadium in Europe and is a piece of architectural genius. The ground also ticks the box for acoustics, as Marseille home games are still one of the loudest on the continent, with ultras taking to the move like a duck to water. 

    With the French club attempting to catch back up with PSG and Monaco, the Stade Velodrome is the perfect stage for the likes of Dimitri Payet and Florian Thauvin to work their cultured magic. 

  4. 4 Stadion Gospin Dolac (Imotski, Croatia)


    Team: NK Imotski

    Capacity: 4,000

    Welcome to 'Spot the Stadium', Croatian style. This tiny pitch looks no more professional than your average Sunday League shrubbery, but its value is escalated by its unique location, close to the border with Bosnia and Herzegovina. 

    Located in the small town of Imotski, the stadium can hold 37% of the town's overall population. The little ground homes Croatian third division side NK Imotski, who were recently relegated from the tier above. 

    In what looks like a barren plain of land, the bright green of the grass pitch shines bright through the harsh grey rock that surrounds it. 

  5. 5 Pancho Aréna (Felcsút, Hungary)


    Team: Puskas Akademia FC

    Capacity: 3,400

    Any stadium that is home to the Puskas Academy is going to be cool, isn't it? The wooden design looks like something out of a fairytale and a Christmas craft set all at once. 

    The stadium has been a source of controversy, as Hungarians complained that such a grand structure was built - with their tax money - despite the village only having a population of 1,688. 

    'Coincidentally' the Prime Minister Viktor Orbán is from Felcsút and sanctioned several construction projects in the village since beginning his tenure in 2010. Corruption claims would suggest that this hasn't gone down well... 

  6. 6 Olympiastadion (Munich, Germany)


    Teams: Formerly of Bayern Munich and 1860 Munich

    Capacity: 69,250

    95% of football fans would have expected another Munich stadium to make this list, but this beauty caught my eye to snatch the privilege away from the Allianz Arena at the last second.

    This stadium looks like one of the more modern numbers on this list, yet it was built for the Munich Olympics, all the way back in 1972?! The one-sided stadium was, of course, an athletics arena by birth, yet was used by both Bayern and 1860 Munich until the Allianz Stadium opened in 2005. 

    The prickly piece is less busy nowadays, but still creates one of the most eye-catching details of the Munich skyline. Bring it back I say!

  7. 7 Central Coast Stadium (Gosford, Australia)


    Team: Central Coast Mariners

    Capacity: 20,059

    Picture the scene of the meeting between the architects responsible for building this small Aussie ground: 'Let's ditch the stand behind the goal and lob some palm trees there instead!'

    The stadium was built in 1999 on the shore of Brisbane Water, and has created the paradise playing environment that you would probably expect from a town that sits a few hours north of Sydney. 

    The Mariners have won two A-League titles in their new ground, and one can only imagine how quickly the stadium transformed into a party with the palm trees and golden sunsets draping above the grass. 

  8. 8 King Fahd International Stadium (Riyadh, Saudi Arabia)


    Teams: Al-Hilal, Al-Shabab and Al-Nassr

    Capacity: 68,752

    This 'Pearl of Stadiums' - as it is nicknamed in Arabic - is simplistically brilliant, with its crown-like roof protecting spectators from the intense sun and heat of the Saudi desert around it. 

    It has to be something pretty special, as it is the home of three of the four most successful clubs in Saudi league history: Al-Hilal (14 titles), Al-Nassr (7) and Al-Shabab (6).

    A royal balcony was built into the stadium so that the late King Fahd could observe matches in luxurious conditions. The stadium has also appeared in the last five FIFA videogames. 

  9. 9 Rungrado 1st of May Stadium (Pyongyang, North Korea)


    Team: North Korea National Team

    Capacity: 114,000

    Now we've hit the big time! Officially the largest association football stadium on the planet, the Rungrado 1st of May Stadium is the home of North Korean sport and celebration. 

    The stadium's size does not sacrifice its looks, as the rounded design and colourful interior makes for an impressive spectacle. It is named after International Workers Day, which is celebrated annually, every May. 

    The stadium holds political significance as well, as Kim Jong-il was reportedly the victim of an assassination attempt - via burning - in the late 1990s.

  10. 10 Arena da Amazônia (Manaus, Brazil)


    Team: Nacional

    Capacity: 44,300

    There's something about a football stadium in the middle of the Amazon rainforest that is incredibly satisfying. To add to the illusion, the design was based on straw baskets made by the forest's inhabitants. 

    The venue was built for the 2014 World Cup, and was also used for matches during the 2016 Rio Olympics. It is designed sustainably, with water recycling and sewage management systems reducing its impact on the environment. 

    During the World Cup, England manager Roy Hodgson complained that Manaus was not a practical venue for a football match - due to the heat - and went onto lose 2-1 to Italy; the Amazon always wins, Roy.

  11. 11 FNB Stadium (Johannesburg, South Africa)


    Teams: Kaizer Chiefs and South Africa National Team

    Capacity: 94,736

    For fans of colour, this is a beauty. It may also set off a tingle in the hearts of Spanish fans, as it was the venue for Andres Iniesta's stoppage-time goal to win the 2010 World Cup.

    The biggest stadium in Africa is also known as 'Soccer City', as its location next to the South African FA headquarters makes it the hub of South African football. 

    The design is based on an African pot, and the lights that run along the bottom of the exterior represent fire crackling under the pot. It was also the location of Nelson Mandela's first speech after his prison release in 1990, and his final public appearance in 2010. 

  12. 12 Alfheim Stadium (Tromsø, Norway)


    Team: Tromsø IL

    Capacity: 6,801

    Hold onto your hats folks, we're about to get geographical. Out of context, this little ground looks like your average English League 2 ground but it is, in fact, quite special. 

    The home of Tromsø IL is the most northernly stadium in the world and is frequently a small emerald of grass in a blanket of white snow. Fortunately, and essentially, the stadium has artificial turf, so there's one less Norwegian groundsman pulling his hair out... 

    The icy, mountainous surroundings would be fit of a particularly popular TV series, but there's only one game being played here, and that's football. 

  13. 13 CenturyLink Field (Seattle, USA)


    Team: Seattle Sounders

    Capacity: 67,000

    This stadium is everything that the MLS should be. It's edgy, vibrant, colourful yet not quite the complete package - I direct you to the stand behind the goal... 

    The Sounders share their home with NFL's Seattle Seahawks, whose fans once broke the Guinness World Record for the loudest crowd roar in an outside arena, being recorded at 137.6 decibels in 2016. 

    The stadium and its noise have been massive parts of Seattle Sounders' progression as a football club, with the Seattle Times claiming that a "new standard for attendance and game-day atmosphere has been set". 

  14. 14 Beijing National Stadium (Beijing, China)


    Team: China National Team

    Capacity: 80,000

    The Bird's Nest stadium is one of the most iconic Olympic stadiums that we have ever seen and never has 'it is what it says on the tin' been more relevant.

    Whilst more renowned for its status during the 2008 Beijing Olympics, the stadium has recently been adopted by the Chinese national football team and has been the venue for some exhibition matches - including Chelsea v Arsenal earlier this summer - and the Italian Supercoppa final.

    Local side Beijing Guo'an were supposed to reside in the stadium after the Olympic Games but backed out after worries (and shame) of how their 10,000 strong support would appear in an 80,000 sized stadium. 

  15. 15 Hásteinsvöllur (Vestmannaeyjar, Iceland)


    Team: ÍBV

    Capacity: 2,300 (534 seated)

    If I told you that David James spent 2013 playing at this stadium, would you believe me? The England goalkeeper came to play for ÍBV for 17 matches under ex-Charlton defender Hermann Hreiðarsson. I bet changing his postal address took a while...

    This stadium is not here for its David James-related history, however, but for the fact that it is located on a volcanic island that is 4.6 miles off the coast of Iceland. Bad ass or what? 

    With the island boasting a modest population of 4,500 people, the stadium is probably the best place for a community gathering!

  16. 16 National Stadium (Kaohsiung, Taiwan)


    Team: Taiwan National Team

    Capacity: 55,000

    From above, this looks like one of the longest stadium designs in the world. The venue was opened in 2009 for the World Games of that year, and has hosted Taiwanese international football matches since. 

    The exterior is designed like a dragon - a long one at that - and it was the first ever stadium to use solar-powered energy to provide its power needs. The panels on the outside can produce almost all of the power required for the functioning of the venue, as well as additional reserves. 

    It's great for the environment, but it's really, really long...

  17. 17 Sapporo Dome (Sapporo, Japan)


    Team: Hokkaido Consadole Sapporo

    Capacity: 41,484

    London's recent Star Sixes tournament showcased how satisfying an indoor grass pitch can be, and the image above only boosts that delight. The fun doesn't stop there, however... 

    The Dome can go from an indoor venue to an outdoor venue at the (very slow) click of a finger, as the pitch can slide onto the outside area. It can also switch from grass to an artificial surface to match either football or baseball games. 

    The stadium hosted England's 1-0 win over Argentina in the 2002 World Cup, as David Beckham drove home a penalty to sink their rivals.  

  18. 18 AVIVA Stadium (Dublin, Republic of Ireland)


    Team: Republic of Ireland National Team

    Capacity: 51,700

    When researching for 'exotic stadiums' I did not expect to be including Dublin in the international list of locations. Yet the Emerald Isle has come up trumps, and the national stadium is an excellent modern arena. 

    Opened in 2010, the AVIVA primarily hosts football and rugby in its bowl-like confines. The stadium has three full stands, and one with exclusively lower-tier seating, due to the proximity to local housing. 

    Ironically there seems to be a trend of stadiums that are missing one side on this list; perfection isn't everything!

  19. 19 Forsyth Barr Stadium (Dunedin, New Zealand)


    Team: Southern United FC

    Capacity: 30,748

    The Glasshouse, how it's so aptly named, is the world's first fully-enclosed venue that has natural grass. The stadium's roof is made of the same materials as the Allianz Arena in Munich. 

    Whilst the stadium was primarily a rugby stadium, it is also the home of the New Zealand Football Championship side Southern United FC. Newcastle United have trained there before, and that's as far as the links with Premier League football can stretch...

    It's a beauty though, and another example of minimalistic brilliance. 

  20. 20 Azadi Stadium (Tehran, Iran)


    Teams: Esteghlal, Persepolis and the Iran National Team

    Capacity: 78,116

    From minimalistic brilliance to maximised excellence, the Iranian national stadium was once the world's biggest stadium - before those pesky North Koreans came along!

    Until 2003, the stadium could hold 100,00 spectators but had to have its capacity reduced due to the installation of seats. One can only imagine the live football experience before-hand... 

    It is a unique sight in football, as a stadium with a large capacity that actually sinks into the ground. It's an antique-like crater in Asian football's ever-growing moon. 


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Jack Colman

I'm a 22-year-old Chelsea fan (since 2000, before you ask...) with a strong love of both Cesar Azpilicueta and Isco. I'm a student at University of Nottingham, studying English, Spanish and Portuguese, and spent last year living in Argentina and Brazil.

RealSport’s Top 20 Stadiums in World Football

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