National Stadiums

Wembley

Football stadiums are primarily about having somewhere that people can go to to watch their time play. but they can also be about so much more than that. They can be about prestige, about status and about having a stadium that is representative of something.

On the club level you have well-known grounds such as Anfield that are synonymous with passion, the local community and famous European night atmospheres. There’s also stadiums like Old Trafford that reflect the success and commercialism of the club that uses it.

When it comes to the international realm of football stadiums, though, there are a whole host of interesting locations that represent something in their own way. There are some nations that don’t have a particular home stadium, for example, but instead the national team travels from ground to ground around the country in order to allow the people to feel that the team is representative of them rather than just of the biggest city in the land.

National Stadium Stats

Stadium Year Opened Capacity Ave Attendance Record Attendance Record Attendance Match
Amsterdam ArenA
AFC Ajax / Netherlands
1996 53,502 50,905 53,502
Stade Louis II
AS Monaco
1985 18,523 11,619 18,523 Monaco v Chelsea (2004)
Stadio Olimpico
AS Roma / SS Lazio
1937 70,634 21,274 100,000 Italy v Hungary (1953)
Baku National Stadium
Azerbaijan
2015 69,870 38,000 55,000 Azerbaijan v Norway (2016)
Cardiff City Stadium
Cardiff City / Wales
2009 33,280 14,492 28,018 Cardiff v Liverpool (2014)
Wembley
England / Tottenham Hotspur
2007 90,000 85,000 89,874 Portsmouth v Cardiff City (2008)
Parken Stadium
FC Copenhagen / Denmark
1992 38,065 14,523 42,083 Denmark v Sweden (2007)
Stade De France
France
1998 81,338 78,432 81,100 France v Algeria (2010)
Aviva Stadium
Ireland
2010 51,700 34,122 51,700 Multiple
Georgios Karaiskakis
Olympiacos, Greece National Team
2004 32,115 23,248 42,415 Olympiacos vs AEK Athens (1965)
Luzhniki Stadium
Russia
1956 78,360 102,538 USSR v Italy (1963)
Hampden Park
Scotland / Queen's Park
1903 51,866 50,597 149,547 Scotland v England (1937)
Arena Națională
Steaua București / Romania
2011 55,634 21,099 53,329 Romania v Netherlands (2012)
Friends Arena
Sweden / AIK Fotboll
2012 50,653 21,000 49,967 Sweden v England (2012)
The Principality Stadium
Wales
1999 74,500 69,221 74,645 Wales v Ireland (2009)

Here we’ll have a look at the different types of stadiums around the world and what they mean to the people of the county they’re located in. We’ll tell you about them in an abstract sense, such as how much they generally cost and what they get used for, as well as look at some of the interesting history of national stadiums from around the globe.

National Stadium Types

It is not exclusively the case, of course, but generally speaking the national stadium of any given country is often the largest in the land. Though they are normally used for a multitude of purposes, their main function is to host the association football matches of the specific country’s national team.

Another quirk of international football is that different Football Associations from around the world feel as though the national stadium should be in, or at least close to, the capital city of the country. The idea is probably that the ground is used by the national team therefore it makes sense that it’s close to the centre of operations for said nation. However the downside to that is that it tends to limit access for the fans who might not be able to afford to travel to the ground, especially if the country is large and sprawling.

Country’s like Brazil, for example, don’t have an official stadium for the national side. What they do have, though, is a number of grounds that can be used for the biggest matches in the game. There is often a nominal national stadium, such as the Estádio Nacional de Brasília Mané Garrincha, even if more famous grounds such as the Estádio do Maracanã are larger and more commonly used.

Another interesting thing to note with national stadiums is the manner in which they reflect the way the country is run. In nations where there is a head of state, such as the Sultan of Brunei, you might find that the stadium has been named after them. For example, Brunei’s Sultan Hassal Bolkiah Stadium.

Other countries might opt for a name based on the stadium’s location, like China’s Beijing National Stadium or the Helsinki Olympic Stadium. Others still may name their ground after major cultural events that have taken place in the past. The Republic Of Congo’s Stade de la Revolution or The Gambia’s Independence Stadium are good examples of this.

All in all the national stadium of any given country often reflects the culture of the country and can be used to tell the world something about the nation it is representing. From Libya’s 11 June Stadium through to South Africa’s Soccer City, national football grounds are rarely just about being locations for people to go and watch football.

National Team Stats

Team Year Founded Nickname Team Owner
Wales 1876 The Dragons (Welsh: Y Dreigiau) Football Association of Wales
Scotland 1872 The Tartan Terriers Scottish Football Association
Denmark 1889 De Rød-Hvide (The Red and White), Olsen-Banden (The Olsen Gang), Olsens Elleve (Olsen's Eleven), The Red and White Football Aces Danish FA
Croatia 1990 Vatreni Croatian FA
Russia Медведи (Bears), Золотые орлы (Golden Eagles)
Netherlands 1905 Oranje, Holland, Clockwork Orange, The Flying Dutchmen Royal Dutch Football Association
Azerbaijan 1912 Milli Association of Football Federations of Azerbaijan
Romania 1909 Tricolorii (The Tricolours) Federația Română de Fotbal
Republic Of Ireland 1921 The Boys in Green, The Green Army Football Association of Ireland
Sweden 1908 Blågult Swedish Football Association
Greece 1906 Ethniki (National), Galanolefki (Sky blue-white), Piratiko (Pirate Ship) Hellenic Football Federation
England 1870 The Three Lions The Football Association
France 1904 Les Bleus (The Blues), Les Tricolores (The Tri-colors) La Sélection (The Selection) French Football Federation

About

Cost

It goes without saying that the size, scale and importance of a country’s national stadium varies depending on that country’s place on the international stage. The ground built to represent England, for example, is always likely to be bigger and more expensive than the one in Trinidad and Tobago.

Wembley Stadium, which is capable of housing up to 90,000 people, took around five years to build and cost somewhere in the region of £750 million. Parken Stadium in Denmark, on the other hand, can house less than half that amount and cost a tenth of the price, or roughly €85 million.

In other words, there are no hard or fast rules for the cost of stadiums but a good rule of thumb is that the more important a country is on the world stage - or the more important it perceives itself to be - the more expensive a stadium will be.

Who Pays For Construction

Another factor which varies wildly is who exactly is responsible for the cost of building a new stadium. Oftentimes the construction is funded by a country’s Football Association which, in turn, is the financial responsibility of the government. That isn’t always the case, however, and deals can sometimes be struck to cover the cost of it all.

To return to Denmark’s Parken Stadium for a moment, that is a good case in point. It was built by investors from a company that offered to do it in exchange for a guarantee from the Danish Football Association that all of the games of the national team would be played in it for fifteen years. They in turn then sold the ground to FC Copenhagen and made a nice profit on their investment. Much like with cost, the way stadiums are paid for varies from country to country.

Other Uses

Nowadays stadiums are rarely, if ever, solely used for football. As soon as the money men realised that they could get a greater return on their investment by using the grounds for other purposes the multi-function use of stadiums grew exponentially.

Even within the realm of football there are activities that national stadiums can be used for other than just the national team’s games. Cup finals are a clear example of this, as well as high-profile friendly matches featuring domestic teams from different countries.

The most obvious example of something other than football that national stadiums are used for, however, comes in the form of other sports. Rugby Union matches are often played in grounds such as the Stade De France, with athletic meets often being held there too. American Football has been played at Wembley.

Another big money-spinning thing to be done at stadiums is for them to host concerts. World-famous bands such as U2, One Direction and Muse often use a country’s national ground as the location for their concerts in order to perform to as many fans as possible and to earn as much money for ticket sales as they can.

The final clear money-making scheme that stadiums often take advantage of is allowing the stadium’s facilities to be used for private hire. Conferences, weddings, events and more can often be enhanced by being located in the home ground of the country’s national football team.

Biggest National Stadium In The World

At the time of writing, the largest stadium in the world by capacity is the national stadium of North Korea, the Rungrado 1st of May Stadium. It can house 150,000 people, whether they like it or not.

History of National Stadiums

There is some debate over the claim of the oldest national stadium in the world, though the only thing that can be said with some degree of authority is that it will be from the British Isles. England invented Association Football as it is played today, after all, so it stands to reason that the oldest ground would indeed come from England or its surrounding nations.

Bramall Lane in Sheffield is the oldest football ground in the world but it is not a national stadium. Wembley, England’s home ground wasn’t built until 1923 and the England team played most of their early games at cricket stadiums such as The Oval, which was built in 1892.

The honour is possibly tied, then, between Hampden Park in Scotland and the Parc des Princes in France. Though the Parc des Princes was built first, opening six years before Hampden Park in 1897, it didn’t host its first international football match until the same year as its Scottish equivalent: !903.

One thing Hampden Park can boast unequivocally, however, is the European record for the highest attendance at an international football match. The official attendance at the England versus Scotland match in 1937 was 149,415, though the actual number of people inside the ground was believed to be much higher. The highest attendance in the world takes us back to North Korea’s Rungrado 1st of May Stadium, which has housed 150,000 spectators on numerous occasions, apparently…

The worst stadium disaster in the history of Association Football occurred on the 24th of May 1964 in the Estadio Nacional, Lima. Peru were hosting Argentina in a qualifying round for the Tokyo Summer Olympics when a Peruvian equalising goal was ruled out with just six minutes of the game to go. A pitch invasion of angry fans followed, with police not knowing how to control the crowd.

They chose to fire tear gas into a stand in order to stop the pitch invasion, causing mass panic from the fans. They attempted to flee the ground but couldn’t get out because the corrugated steel shutters at the bottom of the exit steps were shut. A crushing scenario developed, killing 328 people and injuring about 500 more.