The Most Influential Football Stadiums in the World
For most of us, our first experience of football was with friends or in the nearest park, which made our first visit to a proper professional football stadium all the more awe-inspiring.
The huge crowds, the noise and the atmosphere are like nothing else you’ve ever experienced before and they all contribute in a very real way to the home team advantage.
However, when it comes to football stadiums around the world that set the gold standard, some are head and shoulders above the others, so today we’ll be looking at 5 of the most influential football stadiums in the world.
To be entirely clear, when we say "influential" we're not just talking about size here. When it comes to outrageously big stadiums, that particular crown goes to American College Football.
If we discount Pyongyang's 150,000-seat Rungrado 1st of May Stadium, which for obvious reasons doesn't get much use in the international sporting circuit, the largest sporting stadium in the world is Michigan Stadium, home to NCAA College football team the Michigan Wolverines. The "Big House" as it's known, can seat up to 113,065.
To put that in context, that's 47,447 more seats than the Raymond James Stadium, which will host the tightly contested Super Bowl LV on February 7, 2021.
When we say influential, we mean stadiums that are rightly famous for their atmosphere, architecture, or the sheer quality of football that is played there.
Soccer City - South Africa
Technically the home stadium of the Kaizer Chiefs football team, the First National Bank Stadium, more commonly known as Soccer City, is famous for the sheer quality of atmosphere it generates.
The stadium hosted the World Cup Final in 2010 and was the first place in which the world was properly introduced to the vuvuzela which, love it or hate it, does produce a uniquely South African ambiance.
The Maracanã - Rio de Janeiro
Very much the heart of Brazilian football, The Maracanã, which is technically named Estádio Jornalista Mário Filho after a Brazilian journalist and writer, earned its nickname from the nearby Rio Maracanã river.
Seated in the center of beautiful Rio de Janeiro, The Maracanã is not only famous for hosting some of the most hotly contested football matches in South America, but also for the proceedings being looked down on by Rio’s famous Christ the Redeemer statue.
The San Siro - Italy
Stadio Giuseppe Meazza, or the San Siro, is unusual in that it is the home of two Italian footballing giants: AC Milan and Internazionale, better known as Inter Milan.
The name of the stadium itself reflects this unusual twinned nature, as it is named after Giuseppe Meazza. Meazza was a two time World Cup winner who also played for both Inter and AC Milan, eventually becoming Inter’s manager.
Santiago Bernabeu - Spain
When it comes to Spanish football stadiums, there is always going to be competition between Real Madrid's Santiago Bernabeu and Barcelona’s Camp Nou, reflecting the rivalry between the teams themselves.
Despite being the larger of the two, Camp Nou doesn’t quite have the same prestige, with the Bernabeu regularly picked to host important footballing events.
The Allianz Arena - Germany
In a similarly unusual fashion to the San Siro, the Allianz Arena plays host to two German football teams: Bayern Munich and 1860 Munich.
What sets the Allianz Arena apart from the many other excellent stadiums in Germany is its design. The contemporary shape of the stadium lights up the center of Munich in red and blue to reflect the two teams it plays host to.
Wembley - United Kingdom
In terms of both design and atmosphere, Wembley Stadium is perhaps the most influential football stadium in the world. The redesigned stadium is a marvel of modern art and architecture, featuring the iconic Wembley Arch, and regularly hosts of some of the most important events and fixtures in European and world football.