Football stadiums have personalities of their own. Sometimes visiting clubs dread the prospect of being met with a wall of home supporters belting out their favourite chants to give their team the boost they need. Based on the clubs they house, the history they contain, and the atmosphere they create, certain stadiums stand out as truly iconic in the world of football today.
Signal Iduna Park, Dortmund
Also known as the ‘Westfalenstadion’, the iconic ground is home to Borussia Dortmund. With a league capacity of 81,365, Signal Iduna Park is the third-largest home to a top-flight club in Europe, edged out by the Camp Nou and Santiago Bernabeu. But its size is not what makes it special. Dortmund supporters bring an electric energy to games that is difficult to find anywhere else. Facilitated by the ‘South Bank’, the standing terrace in the stadium and the largest terrace in the world, where home supporters form the notorious ‘Yellow Wall’ that is acknowledged even by rival fans as unparalleled in atmosphere. Dortmund fans also hold the record for highest average attendance with 80,588 over 17 games, adding to the daunting atmosphere for any visiting opposition club.
How Dortmund's Yellow Wall will look today. Phwoar. pic.twitter.com/D2aY8A5zdm— Archie Rhind-Tutt (@archiert1) April 12, 2017
Dortmund as a city is a beautiful juxtaposition of history and modernity. A hub for biotechnology and related industries on the one hand, and full of historic buildings, numerous public squares, and iconic breweries on the other. The city is filled with classical architecture and museums, including the German Football Museum for anyone who’s interested in the history of the sport from the standpoint of one of its most prolific nations.
Wembley Stadium, London
The iconic English stadium is not home to any club, but is owned by the Football Association (FA), the governing body for English football. It also provided a home for Tottenham Hotspur from 2017-2019 while their stadium, White Hart Lane, was demolished and their new stadium constructed.
Wembley is considered hallowed ground for football fans across Europe and the world, being home to the nation that birthed the sport. While no club regularly inhabits the stadium, many important club fixtures take place here, including the FA Community Shield which kicks off the season, the FA cup final, and various other play-off games across the divisions of English Football. It was set to host seven games in the UEFA Euro 2020, including the final and semi-finals, before the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic.
In 2007, when the legendary stadium was looking a bit rundown, major renovations were undertaken to transform it into Europe’s second-largest stadium. Its iconic arch was created at that time. It holds over 75% of the roof load and does away with the need for additional support pillars that may obstruct supporters' views of the game. It is also an important feature of the London skyline.
Camp Nou, Barcelona
The largest stadium in Europe with a capacity of 99,354, Camp Nou is home to perhaps the most successful club in modern football history, F.C. Barcelona, and has been home to many of the most iconic names to grace the pitch, including Ronaldinho, Diego Maradona, and the ever-present Lionel Messi.
Formerly known as Estadi del Futbol Club Barcelona, the name was officially changed to the colloquial, ‘Camp Nou’ after a poll was opened to the supporters in 2000. Aside from the pitch, the stadium houses a collection of mini-pitches for training, a memorabilia shop, a chapel for players to pray in, and the second most visited museum in Catalonia, F.C.Barcelona Museum, decorated with a huge collection of trophies the club has amassed over the years. The city of Barcelona is a major tourist hub, seeing 32 million tourists in 2017 due its magnificent sites, culture, fashion, and of course, football. But Catalan residents have taken a stance against the rampant tourism due to the negative impact such as hiking up rents and driving residents out of their homes.
Maracanã, Rio de Janeiro
Officially titled Estádio Jornalista Mário Filho after Brazilian writer and journalist Mário Filho, the stadium is referred to colloquially as the ‘Maracanã’ or ‘Maracanãzinho’ (Little Maracanã) after the RIo Maracanã river. Established in 1950 when Brazil was set to host the World Cup, the stadium saw the hosts defeated by Uruguay in front of 200,000 people. The Brazilian National Team’s home stadium has seen attendances of over 150,000 on multiple occasions, but since its renovation ahead of the 2014 World Cup where many of the terraces were converted to seating areas, its capacity has been reduced to 78,838. The stadium houses one of the most exciting national teams to watch, renowned for their ‘Samba Soccer’ style and rearing some of the most prolific players in the game, including Ronaldo Nazario, Ronaldinho, and Kaka to name a few. Located in the scenic Rio de Janeiro, there’s plenty of exploration to do outside the stadium as well in its scenic vistas, and, of course, checking out the iconic statue of ‘Christ the Redeemer.’