CBC Sports Online's soccer expert, John Molinaro, takes you inside the world of soccer and offers his insights about the action on the pitch and in the front office.
Which is soccer's best stadium?
Thursday, February 15, 2007 | 11:04 AM ET
Fans are an important part of the game, which makes the Italian soccer federation’s recent ruling to force certain clubs to play behind closed doors such an important decision.
Fans are the lifeblood of soccer and without them the sport is reduced to nothing more than a gym class for the players. That's not to say the Italian stadium ban isn't justified – it is – but it makes you appreciate just how much passion spectators bring to the sport.
It also makes you wonder, which is the best stadium to watch a game?
A strong case can be made for La Bombonera, the home of Buenos Aires club Boca Juniors. When filled to capacity, the Chocolate Box, as it is known in English, heaves with excitement and is a cauldron of adrenaline.
Old Trafford, to Manchester United, is a majestic palace. The perfectly manicured field, excellent sight lines and very helpful stewards — you get the sense that you're watching a play instead of a soccer game. No wonder they call Old Trafford the "theatre of dreams."
Arsenal's old stadium, Highbury, holds a special place in the hearts of English fans, including acclaimed British writer Nick Hornby (the author of Fever Pitch, High Fidelity and About A Boy.) Highbury was often criticized for its lack of atmosphere – Highbury the Library they used to call it – but its Art Deco architecture and proximity of its terraces to the sidelines made it one of the cosiest and most intimate stadiums to watch a game.
The Stadio Olimpico in Rome is another fantastic place to watch a game, its open concept giving patrons a panoramic view of the field. One can't help but be impressed by the long marble corridor, flanked by statues on either side, that fans must walk down to get to the stadium’s entrance.
Few stadiums are more intimidating for opposing players than Ali Sami Yen, home of Istanbul's Galatasaray. Turkish fans are rabid – to say the least – but none more so than Galatasaray’s: fans crammed into the Ali Sami Yen are famous for jumping up and down while singing the club’s song in unison over and over again for the entire duration of the game.
And what about the Nou Camp in Barcelona? Glasgow's Ibrox Stadium? Real Madrid's Bernabéu? Stade Velodrome in Marseille? Benfica's Estadio da Luz? The Maracana in Rio? The San Siro in Milan?
They’re all fantastic stadiums to watch a game, but which is the best? It’s hard to argue against La Bombonera, but regular readers of this space will no doubt have differing opinions.
So which is it folks?
This discussion is now Closed. View the Comments.
About the Author
John F. Molinaro is a reporter for CBC Sport Online whose chief love is international soccer. John served as senior editor of Sports Online's Euro 2004 website, which helped him win a CBC.ca Award of Excellence, and was the driving force behind our coverage of the 2006 FIFA World Cup. He holds an honours BA in sociology from York University and a print journalism diploma from Sheridan College, and is also the author of The Top 100 Pro Wrestlers of All Time (Stewart House, 2002).
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