Riots of colour in Spain, Scotland and Argentina, plus a Korean curiosity...
60. The Millennium Stadium
- Location Cardiff, Wales
- Opened 1999
- Tenants Wales, Wales RFU
- Capacity 74,500
- Record attendance 74,576
Before you start, we know it’s not a regular football ground: Wales more often play at the Cardiff City Stadium, while the (English) FA’s set-pieces have long since reverted to Wembley. And it was built – at a bargain £121m, barely double what Manchester United paid for Angel Di Maria – for the 1999 Rugby World Cup.
But the Mill (soon to be sponsored as the Principality Stadium, to the ire of many) has staged enough big games to be part of football’s folklore. Finals make history, and it staged 46 of them, including Liverpool’s penalty shootout FA Cup triumph over West Ham and a dozen play-off denouements.
It’s a great theatre for the drama. The Taff and the city-centre streets create a tight site, cleverly realigning the old Cardiff Arms Park and National Stadium, while the four supporting masts seem suitably nautical for a port city. The steep-sided stands were a treat after the old Wembley’s shallow bowl, while closing the roof only cranked up the atmosphere. And after the game, fans could spill straight onto the streets to celebrate or commiserate. – GP
59. Nacional Julio Martinez Pradanos
- Location Santiago, Chile
- Opened 1938
- Tenants Universidad de Chile
- Capacity 48,665
- Record attendance 85,268
Named in honour of a former sports journalist (hooray, finally some recognition), Chile’s national and biggest stadium was rather less tastefully used as a detention centre during the 1973 Chilean coup d'état. In terms of football it is steeped in history, having hosted the finals of the 1962 World Cup and 2015 Copa America where Chile famously lifted the trophy against Argentina.
Aside from national football, 17-time Chilean champions Universidad de Chile play their mini-seasons at the ground that was modelled on Berlin’s Olympic Stadium. Over 85,000 were packed in for a league game against Catolica in the sixties but now the capacity is nearly half that.
As football hipsters will be all too aware, Universidad played some of the best football in the world a few seasons back under Jorge Sampaoli. Under the now-Chile coach, football was often played in ‘one direction’ – and the band of the same name attracted nearly 90,000 there for a gig last year. – JF
#FFT100STADIUMS The 100 Best Stadiums in the World: list and features here