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FourFourTwo's 100 Best Football Stadiums in the World: 70-61

Words: Nick Ames, Gary Parkinson, Martin MazurLee RodenNick MooreVijhay VickTom Kundert and Kris Heneage.

70. Borg El Arab Stadium

Stadium facts

Located Alexandria, Egypt

Opened 2007 

Tenants Egypt

Capacity 86,000

Record attendance Unknown

Africa's second-biggest stadium is in fact situated 50km west of Alexandria, in the resort town whose name it shares. Originally planned as the showpiece of an Egyptian bid for the 2010 World Cup that fell flat, the ground – built by the Egyptian Armed Forces Engineer Branch – settled for hosting the opening match of the 2009 Under-20 World Cup and has since been a regular venue for the senior national team and big domestic occasions.

One example of the latter was the 110th Cairo derby between Al Ahly and Zamalek in July, although the game was played behind closed doors, as is the case with most domestic Egyptian games after recent crowd violence and deaths.

Borg El Arab is a modern venue that, at a time when stadia and crowd control in Egypt are firmly under the spotlight, will hopefully serve the country well for years to come – and the atmosphere when the Pharaohs are in town is certainly something to behold. – NA 


69. Goodison Park

Stadium facts

Location Liverpool, England

Opened 1892

Tenants Everton

Capacity 39,572

Record attendance 78,299

A grand old ground of English football, Everton’s home since 1882 has recently been accused of hindering the financial development of a club once proudly among the country’s “Big Five”. But what price heritage?

Goodison was the first English ground to have four double-decker stands, three of them designed by football’s favourite architect Archibald Leitch. A replacement Main Stand in 1971 respected the vernacular style – a timeless, synchronised blue and white – although the new Park End is sadly single-tier. Well, “new” for Everton – that 1994 redevelopment was the last major change.

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Mind you, that’s part of the appeal. Approached via tight terraced streets, it’s an archetypal old-school football ground, one of the few where a fan can genuinely imagine the old days. Fierce, too, especially when the atmosphere gets going in the Gwladys Street End, one of the few stands to feature a church: St Luke’s nestles somewhat awkwardly in the corner, putting the God into Goodison. Would you get that at a new stadium? – GP  

#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

68. El Cilindro

Stadium facts

Located Buenos Aires, Argentina

Opened 1950

Tenants Racing Club

Capacity 51,389

Record attendance 125,000

For decades, the Estadio Presidente Peron – more commonly known as El Cilindro – offered Racing fans the unique experience of walking all around the pitch, from behind one goalmouth to the other, so they could follow the team’s attack on both halves. And Racing were worth following, as they beat Celtic and became the first South American world champions.

But in the 1980s, following relegation and one of the club’s occasional spirals into crisis, the stadium was rented out during the summer months and used as a potato deposit. Later on – after 32 years without winning local titles sparked rumours that rival Independiente fans had made a dark ritual and buried seven black cats under a goalmouth – club president Daniel Lalin organised a public exorcism to cure the curse, including a proper priest and fans specially dressed for the occasion (albeit looking more like Ku Klux Klansmen than pilgrims). 

The amazing Racing fans, who consider themselves “an inexplicable passion”, managed to celebrate a couple of titles again (2001 and 2015). The stadium remains one of the best places to watch football, with a great atmosphere and even the occasional ghost – reptuedly 1920s player Natalio Perinetti. – MM 


67. Telia Parken

Stadium facts

Location Copenhagen, Denmark

Opened 1992

Tenants Denmark, FC København

Capacity 38,065

Record attendance 42,099

Football has been played on the site of the Telia Parken since 1911; the Danish national team’s Idrætsparken ground was here until it was replaced by the modern stadium in 1992.

Although inspired by Italia 90 stadiums, architect Gert Andersson wisely decided to place a greater emphasis on keeping supporters close to the action, the distance between the final row of seats and pitchside being a mere 32 metres – barely outside “Beckham territory”.

Idrætsparken’s old main stand was initially left intact and integrated into the new stadium as a hulking side stand, but its 1950s architecture jarred with the modernity of the ‘90s build.

The relic was finally torn down in 2007 and replaced with the striking, glass-faced SuperBest-tribunen. A quirk of the change is that Parken’s 42,099 attendance record can now never be broken, a 10% reduction in capacity caused by the redesign of the final section. – 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

66. Ataturk

Stadium facts

Location Istanbul, Turkey

Opened 2002

Tenants Besiktas

Capacity 76,092

Record attendance 79,414

The mere mention of the place is enough to get any Liverpool fan weeping, burbling and eulogising about Stevie G, Vladi Smicer and Jerzy Dudek’s wobbly legs - this was the venue for the Reds’ Champions League Final miracle in 2005.

It’s also a deeply odd place – those same Liverpool fans will tell you that it’s situated in a field miles out of the city centre and is a logistical headache to get to. It’s something of a white elephant, in truth. Built for a failed bid at the 2008 Olympics, it’s a fine, UEFA Category-4 arena that can host athletics, Turkey internationals and U2 gigs with equal aplomb, but doesn’t really have a raison d’être, what with Galatasaray having their new Turk Telekom Arena and Fenerbahce still happy at the modernised Sukru Saracoglu.

Besiktas are currently borrowing it while their own Vodafone Arena is spruced up – but could be out of the Ataturk by next season, leaving the place largely tenantless. Maybe Leyton Orient could have a look? – NM 


65. Bukit Jalil Stadium

Stadium facts

Location Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

Opened 1998

Tenants Malaysia

Capacity 87,411

Record attendance 100,000

Built for the 1998 Commonwealth Games, the Bukit Jalil sits in a precinct that also includes a hockey stadium, an aquatics centre, an indoor stadium and a squash arena. It replaced Merdeka Stadium and Shah Alam Stadiums as Malaysian football’s home after those Games.

The Bukit Jalil also hosted the 2007 Asian Cup, when Malaysia were co-hosts along with Indonesia, Thailand and Vietnam, although the stadium was criticised by the country’s Sports Minister in 2014 after attempts to improve the pitch failed in recent years.

It does offer an atmosphere to remember during key international matches as supporters’ group ‘Ultras Malaya’ chant their hearts out and encourage others around them to do ‘The Bouncy’, putting the entire stadium on vibration mode.

Massive renovation plans are in store for the stadium and its surrounding areas in the coming years and Bukit Jalil will be closed periodically. The redevelopment is expected to turn the area into a one-stop sporting complex, complete with a shopping mall and residences, to ensure year-round footfall. – VV 

#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 

64. Estádio do Dragão

Stadium facts

Location Porto, Portugal

Opened 2003  

Tenants Porto

Capacity 52,035

Record attendance 52,000

Viewed from the air or afar, the Estádio do Dragão resembles a giant UFO, but when at the venue itself one is struck by the airy and light nature of the unusual design.

Large openings between the banks of blue seats and the partly transparent rooftops at either end have proved conducive to ensuring an impeccable playing surface all year round, no doubt aiding Porto’s formidable record at home – domestically and in Europe.

A Brazilian delegation of World Cup 2014 constructors and architects visiting Portugal’s Euro 2004 venues described the Dragão as “the most beautiful, harmonious and interesting” of the stadiums they had visited.

For the fiercely proud fans of Porto, the stadium could not have had a better start to life, inaugurated with a 2-0 friendly victory over Barcelona in the middle of 2003/04, a season that would end with the Dragons being crowned Champions of Europe. – TK 


63. CenturyLink Field

Stadium facts

Location Seattle, USA

Opened 2002

Tenants Seattle Sounders & Seattle Seahawks (NFL)

Capacity 67,000 (39,115 for MLS)

Record attendance 67,835

Fancy a nice quiet game? Avoid CenturyLink Field. Shared by the Seattle Sounders and gridiron neighbours the Seahawks, and only the second MLS stadium to feature in the FIFA video game series, it has set world records for crowd roars, topping out at 137.6 decibels for a Seahawks game in December 2013. To put that in context, it is roughly the same amount of noise a military jet makes when taking off.

Asked how it generates such a din, architect Jon Niemuth explained: “If you’re trying to create a container, the bigger the cup you can make it the better.” Built with two large stands either side of the field that tower over proceedings – and with the north end open to allow views of downtown Seattle, a mere mile away – it channels the noise directly onto the field.

Djimi Traore, the former Liverpool player turned Sounders coach, acknowledges the impressive atmosphere. “When you step on the field you feel something electric when you play here,” Traore told FourFourTwo. "The best part is when you have the national team anthem and you hear all the noise. That gives you something, the atmosphere is amazing.” With Sounders attendances averaging above 40,000 over the season – and peaking with 67,000 sellouts for derbies – it’s one of the loudest places in MLS. – 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

62. Vicente Calderon

Stadium facts

Location Madrid, Spain

Opened 1967

Tenants Atletico Madrid

Capacity 54,907

Record attendance 60,000

There are few more pleasant views in world football than from a seat high in the Calderon’s stunning red-and-white striped open stands on a balmy Madrid evening.

This place is notable for many reasons. It has a picturesque waterside setting – it was originally named the Mazanares after the river it is alongside, before becoming the Calderon in honour of its legendary president in 1971, Then again, there’s a dual carriageway running beneath the covered Preference Side terrace. And it was Spain’s first all-seater ground – and its first to be given a five-star UEFA rating. (Small technical note: UEFA abandoned the five-star system in 2006; top grounds are now Category Four.)

There’s a small but fascinating museum, a creche if you want to drop the nippers off, and it’s easily accessible via the Metro from central Madrid, too. Get there while you can: Atletico’s new €200m, 70,000-capacity home – which looks like a lot less fun to our eyes – is currently under construction. – NM 


61. Estadio de Liga Deportiva Universitaria

Stadium facts

Located Quito, Ecuador

Opened 1997

Tenants Liga de Quito

Capacity 41,575

Record attendance 55,000

Since its construction, the stadium unviersally known as Casa Blanca (White House) has been a success, hosting the finals of the Copa Libertadores 2008, Copa Sudamericana 2009 and 2011 and Recopa Sudamericana (similar to UEFA’s Super Cup) in 2009 and 2010. Meanwhile, owners Liga Deportiva Universitaria de Quito have had their most successful spell in history, winning six national and four continental titles – while Ecuador also have a 100% record in qualifiers held there.

The Casa Blanca was planned carefully and built slowly: to level the terrain, a thousand workers had to remove 400,000 cubic metres of land. Its grass seeds were imported from France and grown meticulously for two years in Ecuador’s Cayambe valley, warily checked for possible alien grass. Once the grass was relocated to the Casa Blanca, workers and players had to wash their shoes before stepping on the ground, to protect it.

The result is glorious, as the stadium itself – including four dressing rooms, 442 VIP suites (some were sold for $60,000), a presidential suite and even a chapel. – MM. Main pic by Kerem Özcan 

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