Nowhere rivals South America when it comes to football passion. The sport brings communities across the continent together as stadiums flourish in colour, noise and passion. This creates an atmosphere unrivalled anywhere else on the planet leading to many magical moments for fans to remember regardless if they are there or not. For the players, it then becomes a dream to play at least once in these arenas to feel the grandstands rocking before kick-off. So what are the most iconic South American football stadiums?
Greatest South American football stadiums
Estadio Centenario (Montevideo, Uruguay)
Uruguay’s Estadio Centenario may not be the most technologically advanced stadium or the prettiest but nowhere can match the historic landmarks that this arena holds. Why? Well, it was the venue for the first ever World Cup Final between Uruguay and Argentina in 1930.
That day, it would be the hosts that would triumph beating their local rivals 4-2 and claim the first of two World Cup wins. Because of this, the Estadio Centenario has been declared a historic monument by FIFA – an honour that no other South America stadiums can claim. It still has plenty of highlights along its existence having hosted 4 Copa America finals as well as regular clashes between Uruguay’s two biggest sides – Penarol & Nacional. A truly iconic venue.
Estadio Hernando Siles (La Paz, Bolivia)
Bolivia is certainly not South America’s footballing hotspot but playing in the Andes’ comes with a unique challenge – altitude. With La Paz’s Estadio Hernando Siles sitting at an altitude of 3,637m (11,932ft), visiting players have to specially acclimatize to local conditions for several days before playing a match here.
The extreme altitude saw FIFA ban matches above 2,500m in 2007 because of the risks meaning that only local venues now compete at the venue. However, it still hasn’t stopped it becoming a legendary venue across South America and it is certainly one of the most iconic South American football stadiums.
Morumbi (Sao Paulo, Brazil)
Whilst the success of local teams and the 2014 World Cup has seen Sao Paulo blessed with several flashy new stadiums, nothing still comes close to the passion and atmosphere generated at the Morumbi. Also known as the Estadio Cicero Pompeu de Toledo, the home of Sao Paulo FC feels like a cauldron come alive.
Whether it is a local derby against Corinthians or Santos, a Copa Libertadores match or the Brazil side, the stadium is always awash with chanting and colour everywhere you look. It is one of the most awesome and intimidating venues anywhere in South America.
Estadio Olimpico Pascual Guerrero (Cali, Colombia)
The Estadio Olimpico Pascaul Guerrero isn’t one of the biggest South American football stadium but it thrives due to its tenants and fanbase – America de Cali. America are one of South America’s most successful sides and dominated continental football for a decent portion of the 20th century.
With a rabid fanbase, the stadium comes alive particularly when it hosts the annual derby between America and local rivals Deportivo Cali. It has a permanent roar with flares, horns and crowds roaring for hours on end. A real spectacle wherever you look.
La Bombonera & El Monumental (Buenos Aires, Argentina)
On their own, the stadiums of La Bombonera and El Monumental are fine stadiums that have housed plenty of iconic moments for both club and country. Yet, group them together for El Superclasico and it is a whole another story.
The rivalry between River Plate and Boca Juniors literally stops the country and fans will be singing loud and proud both inside and outside the stadium. It feels as if the stadiums come alive no matter who is hosting the clash and it is truly a sight to behold no matter which venue is hosting the world’s biggest derby.
Estadio Nacional (Santiago, Chile)
Chile’s Estadio Nacional has been around since 1937 and is a stadium that shares historic moments for both the right and wrong reasons. On the sporting side, it has hosted many of Chile’s biggest games and the annual derbies between Universidad de Chile and Colo Colo are great to be a part off.
Yet, the stadium is best known for becoming a torture chamber for dissidents captured during the reign of Augusto Pinochet. It was thought that thousands of people passed through the stadium and were punished for opposing regimes. It’s this divided history that gives fans the chills whenever they set foot in Chile’s principal stadium.
Maracana (Rio De Janeiro, Brazil)
Is there any other venue more famous than the Maracana? Rio’s main stadium has a reputation known around the world as being the soulful home of football. It was the scene of Brazil’s heartbreaking 1950 World Cup defeat to Uruguay in front of almost 200,000 screaming home fans. It also regularly hosts the annual Fla-Flu derbies between local sides Flamengo & Fluminense in what is one of Brazil’s most passionate domestic clashes.
Whilst the modern venue has been reduced to a capacity of around 80,000, there is no doubting that the Maracana is always a epic amphitheatre when a match is on and one that every players dreams of setting foot in just once in their careers. Not just one of the the most iconic South American football stadiums, it’s the most iconic.
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