Not too many events pack a stadium like a game of football, also known as soccer in North America. Indeed, football is the most popular sport in the world, with an estimated 3.5 billion fans. It’s no wonder, then, that the stadiums that host football games need to be able to hold a lot of people. Oftentimes, crowd sizes at games surpass 100,000. In 1950, for example, nearly 200,000 fans packed the Maracana Stadium in Brazil to watch the FIFA World Cup Final between Brazil and Uruguay, an event that set the world record for the biggest attendance for a sporting event in an enclosed stadium. Today, the world’s largest stadiums can hold crowds of between 80,000 and 150,000 fans. Here are the top ten world’s largest football stadiums by capacity.
- Rungrado First Of May Stadium
- AT&T Stadium
- Melbourne Cricket Ground
- Camp Nou
- FNB Stadium
- Rose Bowl
- Wembley Stadium
- Estadio Azteca
- Bukit Jalil National Stadium
- Borg El Arab Stadium
1. Rungrado First Of May Stadium - 114,000 - 150,000
The world’s largest football stadium is located in what is arguably the world’s most isolated country, North Korea. Based in Pyongyang, the capital of North Korea, the Rungrado First of May Stadium has a capacity of a whopping 150,000 people. At least, this is what the North Koreans claim. The actual capacity of the venue is thought to be 114,000, but that would still make it the largest in the world. Inaugurated in 1989, the stadium now hosts the annual Arirang Games, which is the largest gymnastics display in the world, according to the Guinness Book of Records. It was renovated in 2014 and reopened for use in 2015.
2. AT&T Stadium - 105,000
AT&T Stadium is best known as the home of American football’s Dallas Cowboys, though the venue has hosted football (soccer) matches as well. Based in Arlington, Texas, the venue is the largest domed stadium in the world. Its roof is retractable, and in the middle of the stadium hangs an enormous high definition television screen, the largest in the world. To top it all off, AT&T Stadium has a capacity of 105,000, the second-highest of all football stadiums.
3. Melbourne Cricket Ground - 100,024
As its name implies, Melbourne Cricket Grounds, located in Melbourne, Australia, was designed primarily to host cricket matches way back in 1853. Nevertheless, the stadium has also hosted other events, including football matches. In 1997, the venue hosted its first FIFA-recognized international football match, which was a World Cup qualifying game between Australia and Iran. It has also hosted matches involving popular European clubs, like Manchester United and Juventus. The Melbourne Cricket Grounds, often known colloquially as “The G,” has a capacity of 100,024.
4. Camp Nou - 99,354
Camp Nou is the home stadium of the popular football club, FC Barcelona. Based in Barcelona, Spain, Camp Nou is the largest football stadium in Europe, and has a capacity of 99,354. Originally built in 1957, Camp Nou is undergoing a major reconstruction. In fact, the stadium is so revered by fans that a referendum needed to be held in order to approve plans for the reconstruction of the stadium, set to be completed in 2022.
5. FNB Stadium - 94,736
The FNB Stadium is the largest football stadium in Africa, and is located in the South African city of Johannesburg. Also known as Soccer City, the stadium was completed in 2009 so that it could host games during the 2010 FIFA World Cup. The venue, however, was not built from scratch, but rather as a reconstruction of the original stadium built in 1989, during South Africa’s Apartheid era. It has a capacity of 94,736.
6. Rose Bowl - 92,542
The Rose Bowl is located in Pasadena, California. It is more well-known for the American football games it hosts than for soccer. Nevertheless, the stadium was also the host venue for two FIFA World Cup finals. It was originally built in 1922 and expanded over time. Today, the Rose Bowl has a capacity of 92,542 fans.
7. Wembley Stadium - 90,000
London, England is home to Wembley Stadium, which has a capacity of 90,000. The current venue is actually a new version of the original Wembley Stadium, which was located on the same site and completed in 1923. The current structure was built from 2002 to 2007. One distinct feature of Wembley is a giant arch that serves as the main support structure for the roof. Each year, the stadium hosts the Football Association (FA) Cup Final.
8. Estadio Azteca - 87,523
This stadium, based in Mexico City, was completed in 1966. The venue has a capacity of 87,523. Estadio Azteca is distinguished by the number of private boxes it has to host major corporate clients. There are 856 boxes in total, which is an amount of premium seating not seen in most venues around the world. The stadium has played host to two World Cups in 1970 and 1986, as well as other international football competitions, such as the FIFA Confederations Cup and Gold Cup.
9. Bukit Jalil National Stadium - 87,411
The Bukit Jalil National Stadium is located in Kuala Lumpur, the capital of Malaysia. Completed in 1998 to host the Commonwealth Games of that year, it is now the largest stadium in Southeast Asia. The venue has hosted several international football competitions, and now plays host to Malaysia’s national football squad. It can hold up to 87,411 people.
10. Borg El Arab Stadium - 86,000
Based in Egypt, the Borg El Arab Stadium, completed in 2007, can hold up to 86,000 spectators. It is the second-largest stadium in Africa, and was built as part of Egypt’s unsuccessful bid to host the 2010 FIFA World Cup. In 2017, the stadium was packed to capacity during a 2018 World Cup qualifying match between Egypt and Congo.
Football Stadiums Today
Holding tens of thousands of football fans may be the least of the challenges football stadiums face today. Oftentimes, the inability of stadiums to manage so many people in an enclosed space can lead to disastrous consequences. Indeed, football stadiums have often been turned into battlegrounds by unruly fans, who are willing to resort to violence as a means of expressing their passion for their favorite teams. In some cases, the overcrowding at stadiums can lead to stampedes, in which many people can be hurt. Security in the stadiums can also be an issue, especially after the 9/11 terrorist attacks. At present, the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has all but emptied the world’s football stadiums, but when the pandemic is over, the crowds of football fans all over the world are sure to return, along with the problems associated with them.