Football stadiums are theatres of entertainment, passion and celebration where thousands of supporters stand witness to the most beautiful game in the world. We look at the largest football stadiums in the world (by capacity) and admire these engineering and architectural marvels. To put out an authentic football-exclusive list, only the stadiums which are used for football matches regularly were included, which might explain the absence of the May Day Stadium in North Korea and other major sporting venues.
#1 Salt Lake Stadium (Kolkata, India)
Also known as the Yuva Bharati Krirangan and built in 1984, it is a multi-sports arena with football being the major sport. It is home to various Indian football clubs like East Bengal and Mohun Bagan and often hosts the national team’s fixtures. Recently, Argentina and Venezuela played a historical friendly match at this venue, which also boasts of being the stadium where the farewell match of German legend Oliver Kahn was played.
#2 Estadio Azteca (Mexico City, Mexico)
The Estadio Azteca has witnessed some golden moments in football since it was opened in 1966. It has been the center of world football for 3 major tournaments including the 1968 Summer Olympics and the FIFA World Cups in 1970 and 1986. In 1970, the ‘Game of the Century’ took place here, when Italy defeated West Germany in the semi-final. Maradona set the stage on fire in 1986 when he scored the historical ‘Hand of God’ and the ‘Goal of the Century’ in a quarterfinal match against England. Club America also plays its home games at this stadium.
#3 Azadi Stadium (Tehran, Iran)
One of the most intimidating and inspiring stadiums to play in, the Azadi Stadium is home to the Iranian national football team and local clubs Persepolis FC and Esteghlal FC also call it their home. It hosted the 1974 Asian Games and is the largest stadium in the Middle East.
#4 Camp Nou (Barcelona, Spain)
Perhaps one of the most famous sporting venues in the world, the Nou Camp is home to one of the greatest and most successful football clubs in the world, FC Barcelona. When packed with a capacity crowd, the atmosphere in the stadium is electric and spectators have watched world superstars like Johan Cruyff, Luis Figo, Lionel Messi in action here. The historic and glorious Manchester United side lifted the Champions League here in 1998-99 after a stunning turnaround in the dying moments.
#5 Soccer City (Johannesburg, South Africa)
The main venue for the 2010 FIFA World Cup, the Soccer City hosted the opening ceremony and the final, besides other group and knockout encounters. It underwent a major upgrade for the World Cup, and the new design resembles the African pot, hence it was nicknamed ‘The Cabalash’. It is regularly used by the national team for its international fixtures while it also plays host to the Kaizer Chiefs playing in national football league.
#6 Wembley Stadium (London, England)
It has been christened as the Mecca of football for its association with history and location in the most popular football country in the world. Owned by the FA, it hosts England’s international fixtures and is also the venue for major domestic matches. The New Wembley was opened in 2007 after bringing down the old Wembley 4 yeurs earlier. Famous musicians and bands have performed at this stadium, which is also set to host the football finals of the 2012 Summer Olympics.
#7 Gelora Bung Karno Stadium (Jakarta, Indonesia)
One of the most unexpected names on the list, this stadium was built in 1962 and regularly hosts the matches of the Indonesian national team as well as other major domestic league and cup fixtures. It is also the home ground of Persija Jakarta, one of the most successful Indonesian football clubs. Its usage is similar to the Wembley and, hence, the inclusion.
#8 Santiago Bernabéu (Madrid, Spain)
Another highly prestigious and famous football venue, it is the home ground of Real Madrid. It was named in honour of the former club chairman Santiago Bernabéu Yeste. It was inaugurated in 1947 has played host to 3 European Cup finals, one Champions League final and the 1964 European Nations Cup as well as the 1982 FIFA World Cup.
#9 Estádio do Maracanã (Rio de Janeiro, Brazil)
The biggest stadium in South America, the Maracana Stadium was constructed in 1950 for the FIFA World Cup. It still holds the attendance record for a football match, 199,854 set during the 1950 World Cup. It is slated to host the 2013 FIFA Confederations Cup, the 2014 World Cup, the 2015 Copa America and the 2016 Summer Olympics.
#10 Signal Iduna Park (Dortmund, Germany)
Originally known as Westfalenstadion, this stadium is the home ground of German Budesliga side Borussia Dortmund. It is the largest stadium in the German top-flight and was opened in 1974, but has since undergone renovations from time to time, the largest of them being undertaken in 2006 at a cost of 200m Deutsche Mark. It hosted several matches of the 2006 FIFA World Cup held in Germany.