As surprising as this fact may be to some, especially those of us in the United States, soccer is actually the most popular sport on the planet. While some leagues begin their seasons in the spring, others begin in the fall and carry through the winter.
With such a wide variety of seasons, it’s easy for soccer fans to find a game no matter what time of year it is. Thousands of players around the globe strap on a pair of shin guards and hit the field to pass the ball across the court and their fans are more than willing to shell out the cash to see them play in person. Here are some of the best soccer stadiums around the world to visit if you want to get sideline seats to a serious game.
7. San Siro – Italy
The San Siro stadium is located in Milan, Italy and has the capacity to seat over 85,000 guests. The stadium is home to both Internazionale and AC Milan, both of which are considered to be the biggest sports teams in existence today.
Watching a soccer game at San Siro is a spectacular experience, mostly because of the incredible Italian fans. They scream choreographed chants, wave humongous banners, and shoot off flares not just at the end of the game, but at the scoring of each goal. They’re some of the most enthusiastic sports fans in the world – hands down!
6. Ibrox Stadium – Scotland
At the Ibrox Stadium in Glasgow, Scotland you’ll find the Glasgow Rangers Football Club. For the uninitiated: football, in Europe, is what we Americans call soccer. The stadium can hold up to 50,500 riled up fans at a time on game day.
The Glasgow Celtic are the biggest competitors of the Glasgow Rangers, but the fans and stadium just can’t compete. Rangers fans don’t just chant their support – they sing real songs with intelligible lyrics and music.
5. Olympiastadion – Germany
The Olympiastadion in Munich, Germany was originally built in 1972 in order to host the Olympic Games. It later became the site of several major soccer events and also served as the backdrop for a number of stellar concert events.
Today the stadium is the home of the Hertha BSC soccer team. The DFB-Pokal and Frauen DFB Pokal are hosted there each year, although the 2010 games will be moved to a different location as part of an experiment that involves hosting these events in different cities. The UEFA Champions League Final will be held there in 2011.
4. The Maracana, Brazil
The Maracana can be found in Rio de Janeiro in Brazil. The stadium, with a seating capacity of up to 40,000, is well known for its historic significance regarding the game of soccer.
The stadium is home home to the Rio De Janiero’s Vasco de Gama soccer club. This club is known for being the first to sign African players to their teams back in the 1920′s, bridging cultural and color barriers that were until then played a huge part in the formation of soccer teams around the world.
3. La Bombonera, Argentina
Tread carefully through the Boca neighborhood in Buenos Aires, Argentina and you’ll stumble upon La Bombonera. Home to the soccer team known as the Boca Juniors, the stadium certainly isn’t one of the largest or most beautiful in the world, but it’s the fans that make the experience special.
Forget boxes, large rolling projector screens, or any of the fabulous amenities you’d find in a standard stadium. Soccer fans in Buenos Aires are there for two things – the love of the game and to see what type of celebration Martin Palermo will throw on the field when he scores his next goal.
2. Stamford Bridge, England
The Stamford Bridge stadium is moderate, with a seating capacity of approximately 42,000, but what they lack in size compared to other stadiums is made up in spirit by the exciting Chelsea Football Club. The stadium was built in 1904 and has been likened to Fenway Park, only for soccer instead of baseball.
Fans of the Chelsea Football Club in London, England often wonder whether or not the players are on the field to show off or to win games. The fans love the thrill of a live game, though, so the intent of the team doesn’t really seem to matter.
1. Nou Camp, Spain
Head towards Barcelona, Spain if you want to see true soccer rivals duke it out on the field. The Nou Camp stadium is located in Barcelona and is the home to FC Barcelona.
FC Barcelona and their largest rival, Real Madrid, tear up the field at least once per season, and it’s a game worth attending, even if you can’t make it to any others. FC Barcelona is one of the most successful soccer teams in the world (financially) and Nou Camp is the largest stadium in Europe. With 118,000 seats available, it’s not too difficult to get tickets to a game if you plan in advance.
Next time you travel the globe consider stopping by one of these stadiums for an exciting soccer match. You’ll be surprised at the level of passion displayed by players and fans alike!