Africa is a sports-loving continent. Although much of the continent is poor and underdeveloped, it does not mean that there are no large sporting venues. In fact, some of Africa’s stadiums rival many of their counterparts in the rest of the world. Here is a list of Africa’s 7 largest stadiums:
- FNB Stadium, South Africa - 94,736
- Borg Al-Arab Stadium - 86,000
- Stade des Martyra de la Pentecote - 80,000
- Cairo International Stadium
- Stade 5 Juillet - 64,000
- Ellis Park Stadium - 62,567
- Moshood Abiola National Stadium - 60,491
1. FNB Stadium, South Africa - 94,736
Welcome to Africa’s largest stadium. The FNB (First National Bank) Stadium has a crowd capacity of 94,736. The stadium is located in Johannesburg, the capital of South Africa. It opened in 1989, and has been renovated twice since then. The venue is normally a site for football and rugby games, as both sports are popular in South Africa. FNB Stadium has also been nicknamed “Soccer City” and “The Calabash”. The former nicknamed was given to the venue when it played host to football matches that were part of the 2010 FIFA World Cup, while the latter is the name of a type of African pot, denoting the stadium’s shape. In addition to hosting international sporting events, FSB Stadium is also home to a local football club known as Kaizer Chiefs FC.
2. Borg Al-Arab Stadium, Egypt - 86,000
Africa’s second-largest stadium is located in Egypt. It was built as part of Egypt’s bid to host the 2010 FIFA World Cup, which ultimately took place in South Africa. The venue also goes by the names El Geish and Alexandria, the latter denoting the port city which it is located close to. Unlike most stadiums in Africa, Borg Al-Arab was built for one purpose: football. The stadium has a capacity of 90,000, but has historically hosted a fraction of this number, which is why it has never served as the home of any local football club. It does, however, host games played by Egypt’s national football squad, and has also hosted several important football matches, including the 2018 FIFA World Cup qualifier between Egypt and Congo, which drew a record 86,000 spectators.
3. Stade des Martyra de la Pentecote, DRC - 80,000
The third-largest stadium on the African continent is located in the city of Kinshasa, the capital of the Democratic Republic of Congo. Originally known as the Kamanyola Stadium, it was built in 1994, and has a capacity of 80,000, which is more than Europe’s tenth largest stadium, the Ataturk Olympic Stadium, can hold. The venue was billed as a crowning achievement of the then ruling regime of Mobutu Sese Seko. The stadium currently hosts two local football clubs, AS Vita Club and DC Motema Pembe. The national football team also plays its home matches at this venue. In fact, the first match played at the Stade des Martyra was a friendly match between the Democratic Republic of Congo and Malawi.
4. Cairo International Stadium, Egypt - 74,100
Egypt’s capital, Cairo, is the home of Africa’s fourth largest stadium, Cairo International Stadium. The venue has a capacity of 74,100, and was opened in 1960. When it opened, however, it was called Nasser Stadium, after then Egyptian President, Gamal Abd Al-Nasser. The stadium serves as the official home of Egypt’s national football squad. In 2005, it underwent extensive renovations in preparation for hosting the African Cup of Nations football tournament the following year. The stadium is not the official home of any local football club, though it does host significant football matches involving local teams like Al Ahly and Zamalek.
5. Stade 5 Juillet, Algeria - 64,000
The full official name of Africa’s sixth largest stadium is Stade 5 Juillet, 1962 (July 5, 1962 Stadium). Its name references the independence day of the Republic of Algeria, the country in which it is based. More specifically, the venue is located in Algeria’s capital, Algiers. The stadium opened in 1972. It has hosted numerous international sporting events, including the 1975 Mediterranean Games, the 1978 All-Africa Games, and the 1990 Africa Cup of Nations football tournament. In 2010, the July 5 Stadium recorded an attendance of 110,000 people, who came to see the national football team play against Serbia, despite the venue’s regular capacity being just 64,000.
6. Ellis Park Stadium, South Africa - 62,567
Africa’s seventh largest stadium is also the second largest in South Africa. Like FNB Stadium, Ellis Park Stadium is located in Johannesburg. The original stadium was built in 1928. It was demolished in 1979, however, and was subsequently rebuilt. The current venue, which is often called Emirates Airlines Park for sponsorship reasons, has a capacity of 62,567. In 2005, Ellis Park Stadium made history as the first black-owned stadium in the country. The stadium has hosted many important football matches including games that were part of the 2009 FIFA Confederations Cup and the 2010 FIFA World Cup. It is also a premier venue for rugby. In fact, in 1995, 65,000 spectators packed the stadium to watch South Africa win the Rugby World Cup of that year. Ellis Park Stadium is also the home of Johannesburg’s rugby team, the Highveld Lions.
7. Moshood Abiola National Stadium, Nigeria - 60,491
The Moshood Abiola National Stadium, also known as the Abuja Stadium is located close to Abuja, the capital city of Nigeria. It was recently renamed Moshood Abiola National Stadium, after a late pro-democracy advocate, but is still often referred to as Abuja Stadium. The venue, which was opened in 2003, has a capacity of 60,491. It was originally intended to host the 2003 African Games, but has also hosted local football clubs and the national football squad. Abuja Stadium does not, however, serve as the home venue for any local sports teams for the simple reason that the country’s local teams do not draw the kind of crowds that could fill it.