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FourFourTwo's 100 Best Football Stadiums in the World: 30-21

Words: Chris Flanagan, James Fielden, Nick Moore, Adam Digby, Nick Ames, Tom Kundert, Joe Brewin, Gregor MacGregor and James Dampney.

30. Ibrox

Stadium facts

Location Glasgow, Scotland

Opened 1899 

Tenants Rangers 

Capacity 50,947

Record Attendance 118,567

A British record-holder – 118,567 Glaswegians gathered here for a 1939 Old Firm clash, more than for any other league match on these islands – Ibrox was one of several in the UK designed by Archibald Leitch and has hosted visitors as disparate as King George V and Frank Sinatra.

Ibrox – it means “badger ford” in Gaelic – may have housed a Scottish fourth-tier club more recently than a top-flight team but Rangers have won 52 of their 54 league titles at the venue, which can produce an atmosphere unrivalled by most British stadiums… particularly on derby day.

Following a disaster in 1971 when 66 people were crushed to death – 69 years after 25 died when a wooden stand collapsed – Ibrox was radically redesigned, its wide terraced bowl replaced by 1981 with three rectilinear all-seater stands, based on Dortmund’s Westfalenstadion. Even so, the club retained the main stand, a Category B-listed building with a grand exterior, retaining an air of history at the home of one of the world’s most successful clubs. – CF 

FEATURE Simon Inglis on Archibald Leitch, the man who invented football grounds
FEATURE Simon Inglis on the early history of football stadiums

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29. Estadio Monumental

Stadium facts

Located Buenos Aires, Argentina

Opened 1938

Tenants River Plate, Argentina

Capacity 61,688

Recordattendance 100,000+

There are several stadiums in Latin America known as Estadio Monumental, but this is arguably the best-known. Officially the Estadio Monumental Antonio Vespucio Liberti (after a club president), it was initially known as the Horseshoe when funds ran out before the north side was constructed.

That was when the gates first opened in 1938, and although the horseshoe was filled in, to be quite honest it could do with an upgrade in certain areas. But the fans don’t care: for a ground with no roof and an athletics track, the atmosphere – especially for the Superclasico against Boca Juniors – is truly superb, despite its capacity being barely half of what it once was. It remains Argentina’s biggest stadium and River Plate fill it with home fans due to the current away fan ban throughout the country.

At the 1978 World Cup it hosted nine matches, including the final in which Argentina beat Holland on a pitch covered in ticker-tape. Paul McCartney, Madonna and Michael Jackson, to name but a few, have played there over the years, but no tacky Tom Hark goal music is required here: celebrations are firmly taken care of by Los Millonarios’ fans. – JF 

#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 

28. Sukru Saracoglu 

Stadium facts

Location Istanbul, Turkey

Opened 1908

Tenants Fenerbahce

Capacity 53,715

Recordattendance Unknown

The birthplace of Turkish football: the site upon which Fenerbahce currently operate was once known as the Field of the Priest – and was where the original Istanbul Football League kicked off soon after Englishman Henry Pears brought the game to the region.

It’s since ticked off numerous other records: Fener became the first Turkish club to own their stadium, which soon became the country’s largest. It has been systematically dismantled and rebuilt, one stand at a time between 1999 and 2006, but has preserved what made it special: a straightforward, straight-sided box, it’s hugely imposing, but with all the bells, whistles and legroom you’d expect from a UEFA Category 4 Arena once you’re inside.

As it’s situated in the Asian portion of the great city, very little beats arriving via ferry from the western side – dirty Besiktas territory, to the locals – and strolling up to this impressive monolith. – NM

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27. Juventus Stadium

Stadium facts

Location: Turin, Italy

Opened: 2011

Tenants: Juventus

Capacity: 41,475

Record attendance: 41,182

Owning their own stadium has helped Juventus set a standard the rest of Serie A has been unable to match. Although they have started the 2015/16 campaign badly, they have won the league in each of the four seasons since the Juventus Stadium opened – and as the only major Italian club to own their own home, they are reaping the financial rewards of their modern facility.  

The Turin giants were savvy enough to buy the Stadio Delle Alpi site from the local council for €25m in 2003 – and wise enough to realise that, with the city’s population falling, they didn’t need to replace the 70,000-capacity Italia 90 stadium like-for-like. As a result they have a bustling, atmospheric stadium in which even the most distant seat is only 49 metres from the action.  

That it opened in September 2011 with a match against Notts County was a nice nod to the club’s history: the Bianconeri hosted the side responsible for Juve’s switch to their now-synonymous black-and-white shirts back in 1903. – AD

#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

26. Cairo International Stadium

Stadium facts

Located Cairo, Egypt

Opened 1960

Tenants Al Ahly, Egypt 

Capacity 74,100

Record attendance 120,000+

One of the largest and loudest stadiums in Africa, the Cairo International Stadium had a reputation as a wild, exciting and sometimes dangerous venue before its renovation in time for the 2006 Africa Cup of Nations.

Huge crowds used to cram inside, often far beyond its official capacity: at least 120,000 fans are said to have taken in the 1986 Africa Cup of Nations Final, in which the host nation defeated Cameroon. It has been tamed slightly since then, although you wouldn't have known it when Egypt won the 2006 tournament, this time against Ivory Coast, on a febrile night in the capital.

The stadium has held many Egyptian derby fixtures between Al Ahly and Zamalek – one of world football's unmissable occasions before tragic recent events intervened in the country – and remains the physical and spiritual home of a national team currently looking to scale its old heights once more. – NA 

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25. Olympiyskiy

Stadium facts

Location Kiev, Ukraine

Opened 1923 

Tenants Ukraine, Dynamo Kiev 

Capacity 70,050

RecordAttendance 100,062

Renovated for Euro 2012, when it hosted the final, Ukraine’s 70,000-capacity national stadium was re-opened with a performance by Shakira, who is ready to open any stadium whenever, wherever.

In 1923 the venue started out life as the Red Stadium of Trotsky, later becoming the Republican Stadium of Khrushchev before being renamed the plain old Olympic Stadium in 1996. It was a justified, if delayed, moniker: the stadium had hosted some Olympic football matches during the Moscow Games of 1980.

The arena had previously been a rather sparse two-tiered bowl with no roof, not exactly aiding fans’ attempts to keep warm as winter drew near. Now it’s as modern as any top stadium in western Europe – it has a roof and everything, as well as a particularly dazzling circular exterior.

As well as Dynamo Kiev, Dnipro also played European matches at the UEFA Category 4 venue last season because of safety concerns elsewhere in Ukraine. – CF

#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

24. Estadio Municipal de Braga

Stadium facts

Location Braga, Portugal

Opened 2003 

Tenants Braga

Capacity 30,286

Recordattendance 30,000

The jewel in the crown of Portugal’s new set of stadiums built for Euro 2004, the mundane name of this truly extraordinary stadium is in stark contrast to its uniqueness and gobsmacking wow factor.

Built into a former quarry, the amazing feat of engineering first required the removal of 1,700,000 cubic metres of stone, to construct a two-sided stadium. Architect Eduardo Souto Moura (who was subsequently awarded the worldwide “Oscar for architecture” Pritzker Prize) said he believed football was a game that should be watched laterally, hence the decision to leave a rugged stone cliff untouched at one goal-end, while the other end provides a cascading view down over the River Cávado valley and the city of Braga. 

The gigantic grey rooftops supported by 68 coupled prestressed steel cables and grey seating adds to the notion of that this is a temple for the ages, an integral component of the very earth in which it is implanted, rather than a football venue. – TK 

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23. Olympiastadion Berlin

Stadium facts

Located Berlin, Germany

Opened 1936

Tenants Hertha Berlin

Capacity 74,475

Recordattendance 110,000

You’ll be hard pushed to find a stadium steeped in history quite like Berlin’s menacing Olympiastadion. Built for Adolf Hitler’s 1936 Olympics and used first as a hub for Nazi propaganda, it was the setting of Jesse Owens’ dazzling gold medal wins in the 100m, 200m, 4x100m relay and long jump which flew in the face of Hitler’s Aryan ideals.

That history is still tangible. Although it is now a multi-purpose arena attracting just over 50,000 Hertha Berlin fans every fortnight, and the venue of last season’s Champions League final, the Olympiastadion’s controversial place in history lives on.

That may not have always been the case, though – in 1998, debate raged about the stadium’s future; some wished for it to be knocked down completely, others were in favour of leaving it to crumble. Renovation won, however, and selection for Germany’s 2006 World Cup ensured this grand old stadium remained intact. – JB 

I WAS THERE “On a gloomy day, the Olympiastadion’s heritage feels even more haunting. Immediately you’re confronted by two hulking twin towers and those Olympic rings, while the swastika-emblazoned bell formerly housed in a 247ft tower now serves as a memorial to that terrifying period in history.” – Joe Brewin, FFT's Digital Features Editor

#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 

22. Mestalla

Stadium facts

Located Valencia, Spain

Opened 1923

Tenants Valencia

Capacity 55,000

Recordattendance 55,000

In 2019 Valencia CF celebrates its centenary – and could finally close the doors on the 82-year-old Mestalla. That would be 12 years since the club broke ground on the fiscally delayed Nou Mestalla, a couple of miles up the road in the Benicalap region of the city.

As nice as the new ground looks, it would be a shame to leave the old place, for the Mestalla is one of Spain’s best stadiums due to its steep banked stands and close proximity to the pitch creating an intimidating, somehow quite English atmosphere for visiting teams. It’s also walkable from the city centre.

Mestalla has been under threat before. In 1957 the River Turia burst its banks and flooded the ground, leading to a partial stadium collapse. In the 1970s the club considered relocation but opted to refurbish in time for España 82, for which it hosted all three of the host nation’s first-stage games. Nine domestic cup finals have also been held at the famous old ground. – GM

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21. Singapore National Stadium

Stadium facts

Location Kallang, Singapore

Opened 2014

Tenants Singapore 

Capacity 55,000

Recordattendance 52,107

When the decision was made for Singapore to have a shiny new stadium, a number of different groups submitted bids for the project, to be built on the site of the country’s original national stadium.

Considering the sweltering conditions typically presented in the Southeast Asian nation, it came as no great shock when a design with a retractable roof and air conditioning got the nod. A truly modern stadium, it features configurable seating, a roof made of lightweight material and easy access to public transport – the best a reported S$1.87 billion (£875m) can buy.

It has proven a game-changer for Singapore in terms of being able to attract world-class talent to their shores. That was never more evident than in Neymar’s four-goal turn in Brazil’s 4-0 thrashing of Japan in front of a packed crowd in October, 2014. – JD

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