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FourFourTwo's 100 Best Football Stadiums in the World: 100-91

Words: Gary Parkinson, Martin Mazur, Nick Moore, Scott McIntyre, Kris Heneage, Nick Ames, Lee Roden and James Dampney.

#FFT100STADIUMS The 100 Best Stadiums in the World: list and features here

100. Stamford Bridge

Stadium facts

Location London, England

Opened 1877

Tenants Chelsea

Capacity 41,798

Record attendance 82,905

Even though Archibald Leitch designed its first stand, Chelsea’s ground has never been a looker. From the curious little prewar North Stand that lasted until 1975, through the Shed End’s quaint little roof, to the overarchingly ambitious East Stand that almost bankrupted the club, Stamford Bridge has never quite felt right.

Mind you, it’s much more impressive than it was. More recent renovations have at least brought the stands closer to the pitch, luckily just as the on-field fare improved from Droy to Drogba, Micky Hazard to Eden Hazard.

Its reconstruction briefly made it London’s biggest stadium before being overtaken, and the club are keen to regain the initiative. The latest redevelopment plans are certainly visually different – all brickwork and buttresses, if more caldera than cathedral – and the expansion may help Chelsea vault into the upper echelons of this list. – GP

FEATURE Simon Inglis on Archibald Leitch, the man who invented football grounds

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99. National Stadium

Stadium facts

Location Kaosiung, Taiwan

Opened 2009

Tenants Taiwan

Capacity 55,000

Record attendance Unknown

Massive kudos to the Taiwanese for abandoning humdrum cantilevered stands and bashing out an arena constructed to resemble a legendary and terrifying serpentine creature.

Amid the snaking design, its ‘dragon scales’ are actually solar panels spanning 14,000sq.m. and powering 80% of the surrounding area’s electricity, meaning that it’s useful as well as bonkers.

Built for the 2009 World Games (a kind of Olympics for events like sumo, boules and, er, tug-of-war that have been excluded from the IOC’s roster), it is the brainchild of Japanese architect Toyo Ito – who we imagine drank too much orange squash on the morning this blueprint was etched.

It has since hosted such exciting matches as Chinese Taipei 1-1 Brunei, back in March (attendance 6,273). It’s never going to be a cauldron of hate, but it makes up for in charm what it lacks in supporters. A must-see if you’re passing through Kaosiung. – NM

#FFT100STADIUMS The 100 Best Stadiums in the World: list and features here

FFT's 100 Best Stadiums: 100-91 • 90-81 • 80-71 • 70-61 • 60-51 • 50-41 • 40-31 • 30-21 20-11 • 10 9 8 7 6 • 5 4 3 2 1

#FFT100STADIUMS The 100 Best Stadiums in the World: list and features here 

98. Estadio Mineirao

Stadium facts

Located Belo Horizonte, Brazil

Opened 1965

Tenants Cruzeiro

Capacity 62,547

Record attendance 132,834

Officially the Estadio Governador Magalhaes Pinto, the stadium much better known as Mineirao is on the outskirts of Belo Horizonte in Pampulha, a neighbourhood planned from scratch by superstar architect Oscar Niemeyer. He designed streets, houses, an artificial lake, a casino, a church, places that today are considered an architect’s paradise.

Since the football clubs from the city only had small stadiums and needed something as big as their growing population, the obvious place to built an architecture marvel was Pampulha. Straight from its opening, Mineirao rivalled Maracana. Rationalist, mysterious, with the also iconic Mineirinho next to it, the complex looms like a legend of a forgotten civilisation.

Warning: Mineirao is not Mineirazo. The one letter can make a huge difference. This is where Brazil’s historic 7-1 loss to Germany took place in 2014; just as Brazil’s expected 1950 World Cup coronation at Maracana became a disaster known as Maracanazo, this ground is set to be remembered for the Mineirazo – literally the "big hit" or "knockout blow" of Mineirao. – MM

97. Karaiskakis Stadium

Stadium facts

Location Athens, Greece

Opened 1895

Tenants Olympiacos, Greek national team

Capacity 33,296

Record attendance 42,415

A football stadium with a history like no other. Named after Georgios Karaiskakis, a hero of the Greek War of Independence, this site was used as part of the 1896 Olympics – the first multi-sport event of the modern era – and has continued to make headlines ever since.

There has been plenty of triumph (the Red-White are the country’s most decorated side, with 42 league titles) and horror: the Gate 7 disaster in 1981, a Greek approximation of Hillsborough in which fans were crushed as they tried to exit the venue, killing 21 (21 black seats now honour them).

Its links to the Games continued in 2004, as the place was completely rebuilt for football at the Athens Olympics. It is now a thoroughly modern UEFA Category Four site, situated in the lovely port area, with a startlingly good atmosphere – especially when Panathinaikos roll in for the Derby of the Eternal Enemies. – NM

#FFT100STADIUMS The 100 Best Stadiums in the World: list and features here

FFT's 100 Best Stadiums: 100-91 • 90-81 • 80-71 • 70-61 • 60-51 • 50-41 • 40-31 • 30-21 • 20-11 • 10  9 • 8 • 7 • 6 • 5 • 4 • 3 • 2 • 1

#FFT100STADIUMS The 100 Best Stadiums in the World: list and features here 

96. King Fahd Stadium

Stadium facts

Location Riyadh, Saudi Arabia

Opened 1987

Tenants Al Hilal, Al Nassr, Al Shabab

Capacity 68,752

Record attendance 68,752

If arranging the fixture lists in Milan, Rome or Munich is tricky, try doing the schedule in Riyadh where three clubs – Al Hilal, Al Shabab and Al Nassr – all share use of this impressive venue.

Built in 1987 at a cost of a lazy US$510 million (£330m), it features one of the most iconic roof structures in world football – a 47,000 square metre surface area, supported by 24 huge pylons that resembles a Bedouin tent and is ideal for keeping the desert heat at bay.

Two years after its construction, the stadium was the venue for the FIFA World Youth Championships final and last year it hosted the second leg of the Asian Champions League decider, where Australian side Western Sydney Wanderers won the title in a wild match featuring allegations of head-butting and spitting.  

Lionel Messi and his Argentina chums also strolled about here in 2012, where the Barcelona star was stunned to have a rifle poked in his face by a distracted security escort. It regularly reaches capacity for league, national and exhibition matches but there’s barely a female in sight, with women banned from attending top-flight football matches in the Kingdom. – SM

95. BC Place

Stadium facts

Location Vancouver, Canada

Opened 1983

Tenants Vancouver Whitecaps, BC Lions (CFL)

Capacity 54,027 (21,000 for MLS)

Record attendance 25,483

How many stadiums do you know of that can say they've hosted the Pope? BC Place can, after Pope John Paul II played a rocking gig there in 1984. Current tenants Vancouver Whitecaps do well to build the noise, given they are restricted to just over 20,000 for their MLS games.

Despite sounding like Fred Flintstone’s address, BC Place is beautifully futuristic. With stunning symmetry resembling a Spirograph drawing, myriad cables snake around to hold up the retractable roof and the giant (23 yards x 13 yards) scoreboard that hangs delicately above the pitch.

Situated in the picturesque Pacific Northwest, the Whitecaps contest the Cascadia Cup with (relatively) near-neighbours Seattle Sounders and Portland Timbers. If you're ever in town when one of the other two are visiting, just buy a ticket and thank us later. – KH

#FFT100STADIUMS The 100 Best Stadiums in the World: list and features here

FFT's 100 Best Stadiums: 100-91 • 90-81 • 80-71 • 70-61 • 60-51 • 50-41 • 40-31 • 30-21 • 20-11 • 10  9 • 8 • 7 • 6 • 5 • 4 • 3 • 2 • 1

#FFT100STADIUMS The 100 Best Stadiums in the World: list and features here 

94. Stade Mohammed V 

Stadium facts

Located Casablanca, Morocco

Opened 1955

Tenants Raja Casablanca, Wydad Casablanca, Morocco NT

Capacity 67,000

Record attendance 100,000

Morocco's inferno of a home stadium has become one of Africa's must-visits since it first opened in 1955, then with a relatively modest 30,000 capacity. It grew notably bigger, although its renovation as part of Morocco's unsuccessful bid to host the 2010 World Cup means it can no longer hit the six-figure attendance said to have somehow crammed in for a 1997 derby between local rivals Wydad and Raja.

Back then, in a stadium that had been enlarged for the 1983 Mediterranean Games, the famous 'Magana' – the southern curva – was a mass of throbbing, incessant, intoxicating and intimidating sights and sounds.

It still makes impressive viewing at one of the derbies these days, although the ground is now all-seater. Morocco may have faded as an African force but their home stadium, which held the Africa Cup of Nations final in 1988, remains an assault on the senses. – NA

93. Friends Arena

Stadium facts

Located Stockholm, Sweden

Opened 2012

Tenants Sweden, AIK

Capacity 50,000

Record attendance 49,967

Scandinavia’s biggest stadium only opened for business in 2012, but a remarkable overhead kick from Zlatan Ibrahimovic during the first game played there (a 4-2 win for Sweden over England) ensures it is already linked with one of modern football’s iconic moments.

As for the structure itself, a mass of construction projects in the surrounding area lessen the dramatic impact of the hulking tin beast during the matchday approach, but once inside the three-tiered stands and arching iron roof supports certainly make an impression.

So they should, considering the building of the stadium is estimated to have gone almost one billion Krona (£78m) over budget. Visit when the Swedish national team is playing and it will hardly seem worth it, with crowds cold and disinterested – but when club side AIK are at home it’s a different story. Choreographed pyrotechnic displays and elaborate Tifos – sometimes suspended from the stadium’s rafters – make for an unforgettable sight. - LR

#FFT100STADIUMS The 100 Best Stadiums in the World: list and features here

FFT's 100 Best Stadiums: 100-91 • 90-81 • 80-71 • 70-61 • 60-51 • 50-41 • 40-31 • 30-21 • 20-11 • 10  9 • 8 • 7 • 6 • 5 • 4 • 3 • 2 • 1

#FFT100STADIUMS The 100 Best Stadiums in the World: list and features here 

92. Estadio Nemesio Camacho

Stadium facts

Located Bogota, Colombia

Opened 1938

Tenants Millonarios, Independiente Santa Fe

Capacity  36,343

Record attendance 49,000

Many people believe that Nemesio Camacho was a star Colombian player from another era, but they’re wrong. In 1930, Camacho’s son Luis donated land for the biggest stadium of the country’s growing capital, with the condition that it carried his father’s name – although it is more commonly known as El Campin, reflecting its earlier use as a camping ground.

Either way, it was the perfect gift to celebrate the city’s 400th anniversary. The original designer, a German engineer called Federico Leder Müller, used the open land to create a very gradual slope, so the mountains could be seen. An upper tribune was added decades later.

By the end of the century, El Campin had retained the ability of producing amazing ambience for football (and rock gigs), but the stadium was in bad shape. “We liked the original stadium that apparently everybody hated”, said Luis Callejas, the Colombian architect behind the massive renovations. Suitably refreshed, the structure doesn’t feel outdated at all – and was even made earthquake-proof. - MM

91. Stadium Australia

Stadium facts

Location Sydney, Australia

Opened 1999

Tenants Australia, plus teams in various other “codes”

Capacity 83,500

Record attendance 114,714

Built for the 2000 Sydney Olympics, Stadium Australia opened to much fanfare in March 1999 with a series of high-profile events.

The city was awash with goodwill and pride at a stadium that held no fewer than 110,000 people and one that quickly set about posting new world-record crowds in rugby league and rugby union. 

That pride reached unprecedented levels when Sydney hosted what were billed as “the best Olympics ever” by former International Olympic Committee boss Juan Antonio Samaranch.

The ground was reconfigured in 2003 with a reduced capacity of 83,500 and two years later hosted Australia’s historic penalty shootout victory over Uruguay to qualify for the 2006 World Cup. At the time it was only Australia’s second-ever World Cup qualification.

Previous issues with the playing surface have been resolved and the ground regularly hosts major domestic and international sporting events – including welcoming English giants Chelsea and Tottenham to town earlier this year – and is firmly established as Sydney’s premier sports stadium. – JD

I WAS THERE: "I’ll never forget the moment John Aloisi’s penalty rippled the net to win the shootout against Uruguay and send the Socceroos to their first World Cup finals in 32 years. Or the collective outpouring of emotion that followed from the 80,000-odd fans present.It was one of the strangest yet most exhilarating atmospheres I’ve ever experienced at a football match. It was almost as if the crowd was too nervous to manage any coherent chants, so for two hours of normal play it was just regular and increasingly feverish cheers and screams, which reached a crescendo during the penalty shootout. A stadium built for the Sydney Olympics came of age as a football venue that night." - Andy Jackson, FFT Global Brand Director

FFT's 100 Best Stadiums: 100-91 • 90-81 • 80-71 • 70-61 • 60-51 • 50-41 • 40-31 • 30-21 • 20-11 • 10  9 • 8 • 7 • 6 • 5 • 4 • 3 • 2 • 1

#FFT100STADIUMS The 100 Best Stadiums in the World: list and features here