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FourFourTwo's 100 Best Football Stadiums in the World: 90-81

Words: Andy MurrayScott McIntyre,  James Fielden, Gregor MacGregor,  Kris Heneage, Kritikorn Thanamahamongkhol, Joe BrewinJohn DuerdenLee Roden and Chris Flanagan

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

90. Craven Cottage

Stadium facts

Located London, England

Opened 1896

Tenants Fulham

Capacity 25,700

Record attendance 49,335 

There’s no stadium quite like Craven Cottage. In an age where identikit bowls dominate, this is a piece of authentic Little England tucked away on the banks of the Thames in South West London.

Coming out of Putney Bridge station, you pass independent eateries and one of London’s best second-hand bookshops, then into the tree-lined confines of Bishops Park, eventually emerging onto Stevenage Road.

It’s here that Fulham’s home since 1896 truly reveals itself. Fronting the oldest football stadium in the capital – the first ‘Cottage’ was built in 1780 and supposedly counts Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Florence Nightingale and even Queen Victoria as former tenants – the redbrick façade of the Johnny Haynes stand is the typically beautiful work of prolific architect Archibald Leitch. 

This stand, along with the titular Cottage nestled in the corner of the ground, is a Grade II listed building. Throw in the Riverside Stand, brilliant for a half-time drink looking over the Thames, and you’ve got a picture-perfect little ground. And no amount of Michael Jackson statues can change that. – AM

FEATURE Simon Inglis on the early history of football stadiums

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

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89. Shanghai Stadium

Stadium facts

Location Shanghai, China

Opened 1997

Tenants Shanghai SIPG

Capacity 56,842

Record attendance 56,842

Asia does a good job in squeezing maximum value out of stadium space: some come with shops or restaurants built into the structure, some with discos, some with government offices and some with hotels.

If you fancy a good night’s sleep, Shanghai Stadium and its Regal Hotel may not be the place when a match is on, but then again if you want a room with a view it may be the most comfortable bed in the house. Several rooms come with a view of the actual stadium, although there have been complaints from disgruntled guests whose only vista was the top of the roof.

Home to Chinese Super League outfit Shanghai SIPG, the venue itself is quite spectacular, set amongst a cluster of skyscrapers and complete with a curved roof that resembles a white wave about to wash over the city. It also has the world’s longest cantilevered steel truss roof – whatever that means – with a span of some 300 metres. - SM

#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 

88. Aviva Stadium

Stadium facts

Location Dublin, Republic of Ireland

Opened 2010

Tenants Republic of Ireland

Capacity 51,700

Record attendance 51,700 

Given the non-league look to the end behind one of the goals, it may look like they ran out of money at the end of the build. However, part of the deal to renovate Lansdowne Road in 2007 was that the Aviva would be constructed to make sure nearby residents had enough natural light, and the green bowl satisfies that requirement.

It also satisfies UEFA, who put it on the elite list and gave it the 2011 Europa League final – an all-Portuguese affair between Porto and Braga for which it was temporarily renamed the Dublin Arena – and four matches at Michel Platini’s Europe-wide Euro 2020.

A raucous Irish atmosphere is pretty much guaranteed no matter who the opponent is and with the only other permanent occupants being the Irish national rugby team, the pitch is always in decent nick for Martin O’Neill’s side to play ball. - JF

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87. Cape Town Stadium

Stadium facts

Located Cape Town, South Africa

Opened 2010

Tenants Ajax Cape Town

Capacity 55,000 

Record attendance 64,100 

Formerly known as Green Point Stadium, Cape Town’s impressive football ground was one of the venues created specifically for the 2010 World Cup. Indeed it hosted eight matches of varying quality during the tournament, from Holland’s pulsating 3-2 semi-final win over Uruguay through Portugal’s 7-0 hammering of North Korea to England’s drab 0-0 stalemate with Algeria.

The new arena now gives one of the world’s great cities a superb venue for top-class sports and music events, not too far from the popular V&A waterfront area and clearly visible from Table Mountain, which provides a stunning backdrop.

Trouble is, like many a showpiece stadium, it needs to pay for itself thereafter; the local council tried to tempt Western Province rugby union team as anchor tenants, but after four years of talks the deal collapsed.

At least the annual South Africa Sevens rugby tournament is to be held at the venue for the next few years, while Ajax Cape Town have made themselves cosy as football tenants. You shouldn’t struggle to get tickets. – GM

I WAS THERE: "...for seven of the 2010 World Cup matches held at the Cape Town Stadium. Despite bad weather and England's dismal performance the party atmosphere and sleek, modern arena made for a top football holiday." – Gregor McGregor, FFT Deputy Digital 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 

86. Red Bull Arena

Stadium facts

Location New Jersey, USA 

Opened 2010

Tenants New York Red Bulls

Capacity 25,000

Record attendance 25,483

MLS really started to motor once teams opened soccer-specific stadiums rather than rattling round ill-fitting baseball or gridiron fields. The Red Bulls were one of the first to break ground, in 2006, although they had to wait another four years to officially move into their $200 million stadium in Harrison, New Jersey.

Not being in the heart of NYC hasn't stopped the club enticing fans out to the stadium and with the arrival of New York City FC, the Hudson River Derby is a brilliant spectacle to behold.

As Jason Iapicco of Red Bulls blog Once a Metro beautifully puts it: “Red Bull Arena defines what it means to be a soccer stadium and more importantly it is ours. Between how close the seats are to the field, how the stadium keeps noise in, and when the South Ward is rocking there is no place tougher to play.” - KH 

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85. I-Mobile Stadium

Stadium facts

Location Buriram, Thailand

Opened 2011

Tenants Buriram United

Capacity 32,600

Record attendance 33,269

Buriram United’s home is small but perfectly formed. And rapidly formed - it holds the official world record for being the quickest FIFA-standard stadium ever built, taking just 256 days in 2010/11.

Built with the considerable support of club sponsor I-Mobile and politician-turned-club-president Newin Chidchob, who has also built Thailand’s first FIA Grade 1 and FIM Grade A circuits nearby, the I-Mobile is the country’s third biggest stadium, behind Rajamangala Stadium in Bangkok and Thinnasulanon Stadium in Songkhla.

But although it is barely half the capacity of the Rajamangala, it is the most popular and visited in Thailand because of its exciting atmosphere. Where the multisport Rajamangala has a running track, at the soccer-specific rectangular I-Mobile the fans are on top of the players.

The vociferous home fans GU-12 group, notionally led by the club president’s wife Karuna Chidchob, make for an intense atmosphere – the ground is nicknamed 'Thunder Castle' – and it’s perhaps no coincidence that Buriram United won the treble in 2011 and 2013. - KT. Pic: Official Buriram United fan club page

#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 

84. RheinEnergie Stadion

Stadium facts

Located Cologne, Germany

Opened 1923

Tenants Cologne

Capacity 50,000

Record attendance 76,000

It might have a name to make Cologne fans wince, but their neat RheinEnergieStadion – the third ground on the same patch of land – is one of Germany’s best.

It could have been very different had the city got its way to host matches at the 1974 World Cup. Cologne’s bid was rubber-stamped with the promise of a spanking new 80,000-capacity Mungersdorfer Stadion, but spiralling costs – almost four times as much as expected – meant it was finished late.

That’s “late” as in November 1975, meaning poor Cologne didn’t get to welcome World Cup-goers until 2006 when their renovated 61,000-capacity ground was brought down to 50,000 and purpose-built for football. Fit for Joe Cole howitzers against Sweden, for example.

These days you’re likely to find Lukas Podolski knocking about in his favourite place – the two-time Cologne hero has a box there that’s more like a small apartment. - JB 

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83. Daegu Stadium

Stadium facts

Location Daegu, South Korea

Opened 2001

Tenants Daegu FC

Capacity 66,422

Record attendance 63,483

Daegu may be known locally for textiles and delicious apples, but in football terms the massive stadium out to the east of Korea’s third-largest city will likely be best remembered for one game.

In 2002, South Korea and Turkey enjoyed what was possibly the best third-place play-off ever, featuring two teams that still couldn't quite believe what had happened over the previous few weeks. In what was perhaps the friendliest atmosphere ever for an international match, Hakan Suker opened the scoring after just 11 seconds – the fastest goal in World Cup history – and Turkey ultimately won 3-2.

It was a fittingly attractive fixture for a very eye-catching stadium, nicknamed Blue Arc. Nestling in the mountains and retaining much more of a countryside feel than many Korean venues, it can nevertheless create a decent atmosphere when the two massive stands down the sides are full – although that rarely happens these days with the local team struggling. - JD

#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 

82. Tele2 Arena

Stadium facts

Location Stockholm, Sweden

Opened 2013

Tenants Hammarby & Djurgården

Capacity 31,500

Record attendance 31,074

Uninspiring name aside, the Tele2 Arena gets it right in just about every category. Built in the Hammarby heartlands of Södermalm around the corner from their now demolished Söderstadion, it also hosts relocated city rivals Djurgården - a fan squabble over whose game should open the stadium even led to bomb threats. Taking both sides, the transparent digital façade glows either green-and-white or blue/yellow/red, depending on which club is at home.

Big enough to be intimidating but small enough to ensure there are rarely empty places (when Hammarby are playing at least), the ground is an exception these days in that it appears to have been designed with the fans in mind, first and foremost.

Every area of the stadium provides a perfect view of the action, the front row less than six metres from the pitch, while three standing areas complement an abundance of comfortable seating. Whether you prefer to stand among the ultras on the terraces, or sit back and watch the spectacle from a (short) distance, this ground delivers. - LR

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81. Suncorp Stadium

Stadium facts

Location Brisbane, Australia

Opened 1914

Tenants Brisbane Roar, Australia

Capacity 52,500

Record attendance 52,500

Giant moth time! The chances are you’ll see plenty of them if you watch a match at Suncorp during the summer months, with the mammoth insects attracted by the floodlights. The striking red and orange colour scheme of the stadium’s interior is pretty flame-like too, making for an impressive setting for Brisbane Roar’s A-League fixtures and occasionally Socceroos matches.

Originally known as Lang Park and built on the site of the former North Brisbane Cemetery, the venue first hosted football in the 1930s, wooing it from the nearby Gabba cricket stadium. Suncorp was significantly rebuilt and modernised between 2001 and 2003, with three tiers and a noticeably rectangular new look.

There’s a real atmosphere inside and on the short walk from the city centre when a big match is on, with the stadium also hosting both codes of rugby. The pitch was completely underwater during the Queensland floods of 2010 and 2011, but fixtures quickly resumed. - CF

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