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10 Biggest National Football Stadium Capacities

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As the most watched sport in the world, football stadiums that host major international games need to be capable of holding huge numbers of people. As the following article highlights, this is certainly the case.

Below, we look at the 10 biggest national football stadiums in the world, ranking each stadium by its maximum capacity. As you’d expect with football being such a worldwide sport, the stadiums highlighted are scattered across 5 different continents which emphasises the sports appeal around the globe.

ONE

Stadium: Rungrado May Day Stadium
Home to: North Korea national team
Opening Date: 1st May 1989
Capacity: 150,000

Interesting fact: The stadium has 16 arches arranged in a ring to resemble a blossom flower from above, the idea being that it gives the impression that the stadium is floating down the nearby Taedong River.

About the stadium:
Located in Pyongyang in North Korea, the Rungrado May Day Stadium is the biggest national football stadium in the world. Capable of seating up to 150,000 people, the stadium took two and a half years to build and is used to host a number of sporting and non sporting events including North Korea’s home games. The stadium takes the first part of its name from Rungra Island which is where the stadium is located on the Taedong River. The second part of its name is taken from the international day celebrating labour, May Day, which is the day the stadium opened back in 1989.

TWO

Stadium: Yuva Bharati Krirangan (also known as Salt Lake Stadium)
Home to: India national team
Opening Date: January 1984
Capacity: 120,000

Interesting fact: The Yuva Bharati Krirangain is the only stadium in India to be awarded the Fifa 2-Star Recommendation, the highest rating Fifa issues to stadiums using artificial turf.

About the stadium:
The Yuva Bharati Krirangan or Salt Lake Stadium as it is otherwise known is a multi-purpose stadium which has the capacity to hold up to 120,000 people. A 3-tier stadium which is used predominantly to host football matches at both club and international level, the stadium is situated approximately 7 miles outside the city of Kolkata in a district called Bidhannagar. Home to local football teams Mohun Bagan FC, Kingfisher East Bengal and Chirag United SC, the stadium also hosted Oliver Kahn’s final game for Bayern Munich when they played a friendly against Mohun Bagan FC in 2008.

THREE

Stadium: Estadio Azteca
Home to: Mexico national team
Opening Date: 26th May 1966
Capacity: 105,000

Interesting fact: The Estadio Azteca or Azteca Stadium is the only stadium to ever host two World Cup final matches, doing so in both 1970 and 1986.

About the stadium:
Designed by the architects Pedro Ramírez Vázquez and Rafael Mijares Alcerra, the Azteca Stadium originally had a capacity of over 114,000 people before this was reduced to 105,000 for safety reasons. Located in Santa Ursula which is in Mexico City, the stadium opened in 1966 and hosted the Summer Olympics football games two years later in 1968. Two years after that, Mexico hosted the 1970 World Cup and the stadium was used for a number of games including the semi-final between Italy and West Germany which finished 4-3 to Italy after extra time, a game which is widely regarded as one of the greatest games ever. The stadium also hosted the final between Brazil and Italy which Brazil won 4-1.

After Mexico won the right to host the World Cup Finals again in 1986, the stadium was renovated in 1985 in preparation for football’s greatest showpiece. The stadium was once again used throughout the tournament and was actually the stadium used for the quarter-final between England and Argentina in which Diego Maradona famously scored both the ‘hand of God’ goal and the stunning goal when dribbling from his own half. Argentina went on to win the tournament at the Estadio Azteca defeating West Germany in the final 3-2. Still used today by both the club side Club América and the Mexican national team, the stadium is steeped in history and continues to play host to huge crowds.

FOUR

Stadium: Bukit Jalil National Stadium
Home to: Malaysia national team
Opening Date: 1st January 1998
Capacity: 100,200

Interesting fact: The singer Beyonce Knowles was due to perform at the Bukit Jalil National Stadium back in 2009 but had to cancel her appearance after Islamic conservatives claimed the concert would be immoral because of the artist’s provocative clothes and choreography.

About the stadium:
Built specifically for the 1998 Commonwealth Games, the stadium took 4 years to build in total and is now one of the stadiums used by the Malaysian national football team. Located 12 miles south of Malaysia’s capital city of Kuala Lumpur in Bukit Jalil, the all-seater multi-purpose stadium can hold more than 100,000 people. Designed to be the central figure of the 1.2 km² National Sports Complex, the stadium is used for a range of sporting events. In the last 10 years, Manchester United have twice visited Malaysia as part of their pre-season tour and played at the stadium and there are suggestions that Chelsea will follow United’s lead by heading to Malaysia this summer.

FIVE

Stadium: Azadi Stadium
Home to: Iran national team
Opening Date: 1971
Capacity: 100,000

Interesting fact: The Azadi Stadium has been voted as the most intimidating stadium in Asia and is generally considered to be one of the most intimidating stadiums in the world for visiting players.

About the stadium:
First built to host the 1974 Asian Games, the Azadi Stadium is part of the Azadi Sports Complex which is surrounded by facilities for a huge range of sports. The stadium was originally called the Sad-Hezar Nafari Stadium but the name was changed after the Iranian Revolution in 1979. ‘Azadi’ means freedom in Persian and the stadium was named as such to reflect the events of the revolution. The stadium is located in the West of Tehran and is home to both the Iranian national team and the club teams Persepolis FC and Esteghlal FC. The fans in Iran are some of the most passionate fans in the world and while the official capacity of the stadium is 100,000, crowds often swell way beyond that for the big games.

SIX

Stadium: Soccer City (also known as FNB Stadium)
Home to: South Africa national team
Opening Date: 1989
Capacity: 94,700

Interesting fact: When renovating the stadium in preparation for the 2010 World Cup, the design of the stadium was inspired by the shape of the calablash, a gourd used throughout Africa to store food and drink and a symbol of hospitality and togetherness.

About the stadium:
First opened in 1989 with a capacity of 80,000, a major upgrade of the stadium took place in preparation to host the 2010 World Cup. The official name of the stadium is the ‘FNB Stadium’ which is a result of a naming rights deal with First National Bank. However, the stadium is more commonly referred to as ‘Soccer City’ and this is the name that tended to be used throughout the World Cup. Located in Nasrec which is in Johannesburg, the stadium is based right next to the South African Football Associations headquarters. The $424million cost of upgrading the stadium (£133million more than budgeted) was spent increasing the capacity to 94,700.

An extended upper tier was built around the stadium to increase the capacity as well as 2 executive suites, a stadium roof, new changing rooms and new floodlights. Soccer City, which is said to have no restricted views, hosted 8 matches in total at the 2010 World Cup including the quarter-final between Uruguay and Ghana which saw new Liverpool hero Luis Suarez handle the ball on the line in the final minute before Uruguay went on to win the game on penalties 4-2, that after Sunderland’s Asamoah Gyan missed the spot kick to win the game for Ghana. The stadium also hosted the final between Holland and Spain which Spain won 1-0 thanks to an Andrés Iniesta goal.

SEVEN

Stadium: Wembley Stadium
Home to: England national team
Opening Date: Original Wembley – 1923 New Wembley – 9th March 2007
Capacity: 90,000

Interesting fact: The Wembley Stadium ‘Arch’ which can be seen from Canary Wharf (13 miles away) when lit on a clear evening is 133metres tall at its highest point, more than 4 times as high as the stadium’s original Twin Towers. The Arch weighs an impressive 1,750 tonnes, the equivalent of 275 double decker buses or 10 jumbo jets. Another interesting fact is that there is more leg room in every seat at the current Wembley Stadium than there was in the Royal Box at the old stadium.

About the stadium:
Undoubtedly one of the most iconic stadiums in the world, Wembley as it is today bears no resemblance to the Wembley first built in 1923. The original Wembley cost £750,000 to construct and played host to some of the most famous matches in the history of the game, perhaps none more so for England fans than the 1966 World Cup. After also hosting five European cup finals, the 1948 Olympics, the final of Euro 96 and numerous FA cup finals, the stadium was closed in 2000 and later demolished in 2003. Built in its place was the ‘New’ Wembley, a modern stadium which has a capacity of 90,000 (8,000 more than the previous Wembley). Costing significantly more than originally forecast, the stadium reportedly cost £900million (this figure varies depending on the source) to build making it one of the most expensive stadiums ever built. The stadium took four years to build, a year longer than had initially been planned but after the long wait, the stadium was handed over on the 9th March 2007.

Since the stadiums re-opening, Wembley has hosted England’s national games and many domestic cup finals and play-offs. It has also been chosen to host this season’s UEFA Champions League Final. The final will take place on the 28th May and tickets have already gone on sale. There has been some criticism at the pricing of the tickets with the cheapest available tickets costing £150 and a £26 administration fee been added to all ticket prices (£36 if you live outside of Europe). Those planning on going to this massive showpiece may end up spending a small fortune by the time they’ve paid for their tickets, arranged their accommodation if, bought their programme and paid for food but it may will be viewed as money well spent by many for what may be a once in a lifetime event.

EIGHT

Stadium: Gelora Bung Karno Stadium
Home to: Indonesia national team
Opening Date: 24th July 1962
Capacity: 88,306

Interesting fact: Following the stadium’s opening in 1962, the Gelora Bung Karno Stadium remained untouched for 45 years before being chosen as one of four host nations for the Asian Cup in 2007, following which it underwent a complete transformation.

About the stadium:
Named after Indonesia’s first president, the Gelora Bung Karno Stadium is located in Sensayan, Central Jakarta and is home to the Indonesian national football team. The official name for the stadium is Gelora Bung Karno Main Stadium as the facility is based in a huge sports complex which houses other stadiums used for Tennis, Swimming and other sports. The stadium took almost two and a half years to build and oringanlly hosted over 100,000 people before this capacity was reduced for safety reasons. The biggest match the stadium has hosted to date is probably the 2007 Asian Cup Final between Iraq and Saudi Arabia which was won 1-0 by Iraq.

NINE

Stadium: Borg El Arab Stadium (also known as the Egyptian Army Stadium)
Home to: Egypt national team
Opening Date: 2007
Capacity: 86,000

Interesting fact: The Stadium is unique in that it was designed and built completely by the Egyptian Armed Forces Corps of Engineers.

About the stadium:
The Borg El Arab Stadium is Africa’s second largest stadium after South Africa’s Soccer City. The stadium is located in Alexandria 9 miles from the city centre and is fairly new having been opened in 2007. It was commissioned by the Egyptian FA when they bidding for the 2010 World Cup and although their bid didn’t succeed, they were left with a great stadium which is now used as an alternative stadium by the Egyptian national team when they aren’t playing at their usual home at the Cairo International Stadium.

TEN

Stadium: Stadium Australia (also known as ANZ Stadium)
Home to: Australia national team
Opening Date: 6th March 1999
Capacity: 83,500

Interesting fact: Stadium Australia was temporarily built to hold 110,000 spectators when it first opened for the Olympics in 2000, making it the biggest Olympic Stadium ever built.

About the stadium:
Built specifically for the Olympics in 2000, Stadium Australia is situated in the Sydney Olympic Park in New South Wales. It cost $690million Australian Dollars to build (around £430million) and now has a reduced capacity of 83,500 following reconfiguration work to shorten the north and south wings and install movable seating. The stadium is now officially known as the ANZ Stadium after the ANZ Bank agreed a deal to change the stadium’s name back in 2007 which came into effect for 7 years starting on 1st January 2008. That hasn’t stopped regular visitors calling it Stadium Australia however.

The stadium has hosted a range of major sporting events in the past decade or so including the 2003 Rugby World Cup Final which England went on to win. The stadium is now home to a number of sports teams including the Australian national side and is also occasionally used by club sides including Sydney FC who played Everton in a friendly back in July last year, a game which Everton won 1-0 thanks to a Victor Anichebe goal. The stadium always seems to attract huge crowds which is perhaps down to the great sport on offer, the amazing stadium and the fact that there is so much to see and do in the area making it a perfect weekend breaks destination.

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