UEFA 5 Star Stadiums
Which stadiums are the best in Europe? All available information suggests that UEFA has a new internal list of elite European stadia, those able to hold finals of Champions League and Europa League. However, despite our attempts the governing body did not make any such list available to us.
For this reason we decided to remind you the last such list published at all. It was updated for the last time in 2007 as far as we know, then becoming invalid as UEFA’s infrastructural criteria were changed. This list shows all stadiums that were (again: as of 2007) ranked as 5-star stadiums. This allowed them to bid for a Champions League final. Later the 5-star rating was replaced by Elite and later Category 4 rating, but in both these cases additional staging requirements were made for CL final applicants.
The most crucial criterion at that time was the capacity of no less than 50,000 people (later raised to 60,000+, with 70,000+ preferred). You may check all of the 5-star requirements of 2006 under this list. Before you do that, feel free to browse through the 25 top-rank stadiums. Since they all meet the same criteria, we decided to list them by capacity.
Camp Nou 99,354
Barcelona, Spain | Europe’s largest stadium gained the 5-star status during the 1998/99 season, when Barcelona was the host of the Champions League final. And not any final, but the one when Manchester United famously defeated Bayern after trailing for over 80 minutes and scoring 2 goals in stoppage time!
Stade de France 81,338
St. Denis, France | It was only natural for the new French national stadium to meet UEFA’s highest expectations. After all, it was built for the final of 1998 World Cup. Champions League finals were only a matter of time and followed in 2000 and 2006.
Stadio Giuseppe Meazza 81,227
Milan, Italy | Ahead of the 2016 Champions League final it already required a renovation, but the 5-star status was awarded to San Siro ahead of the 2001 one.
Moscow, Russia | National stadium of Russia had its complete roof since 1997. This wasn’t a crucial requirement of UEFA at that point, but proved very helpful in gaining hosting rights for the 2008 Champions League final. Natural turf was laid specifically for that game, replacing previous synthetic field.
Atatürk Olimpiyat Stadyumu 76,092
Istanbul, Turkey | Opened in 2002, the new national stadium of Turkey hosted its first (and only, to date) Champions League final after just 3 years in operation, in 2005. To date it was the most prestigious event held here.
Old Trafford 75,643
Manchester, England | Thanks to the thorough upgrade of post-Taylor era (1995-2000), the “Theatre of Dreams” joined European elite and was able to host the 2003 Champions League final. Interestingly, the building only reached its capacity of over 75,000 in 2006, three years after the final.
Principality Stadium 74,500
Cardiff, Wales | It appeared on the map of Wales in 1999 and received the highest rank from UEFA not long afterwards. Still, despite holding numerous events including the 2012 Olympic games, the first Champions League final for this stadium was set for 2017.
Berlin, Germany | This monument of the Third Reich underwent its largest redevelopment to date in 2004, priced at €242 million. This allowed it to hold the 2006 World Cup final, after which a Champions League equivalent was a matter of time. It followed in 2015.
Stadio Olimpico 70,634
Rome, Italy | Ahead of the 1990 World Cup the famous Olympic Stadium of Rome received its membrane canopy and in such layout hosted the 1996 Champions League final. When another one was set to take place in 2009, the building already needed significant investment.
Stádio Olympiakó Spiros Louis 69,618
Athens, Greece | We’ve known the double-tiered stands since 1980s, but it wasn’t until the pre-2004 Olympics upgrade that the Athens Olympic Stadium was again put among Europe’s best. As proven in 2007, when the Champions League final was played here.
Munich, Germany | Opened in 1972, the stadium is now a monumental landmark, but until 2005 it was also the home of Bayern and TSV 1860, being the true football heart of Munich. With regular investments, the stadium successfully hosted the 1997 Champions League final.
Estádio da Luz 66,147
Lisbon, Portugal | The largest stadium of Portugal was built ahead of Euro 2004, during which it held the final game. A spot on the 5-star stadium list well-earned, but Lisbon had to wait for a Champions League final until 2014.
Estadio Olímpico de Sevilla 57,619
Seville, Spain | Opened in 1999, the Olympic Stadium in Sevilla unfortunately has as little to do with the Olympics, as it has with Champions League. Both events never happened here, even if early years of the stadium brought some European spotlight onto it.
Estadi Olímpic Lluís Companys 55,926
Barcelona, Spain | Opened back in 1929, the Olympic Stadium in Barcelona received UEFA’s highest praise after renovation leading up to the 1992 Olympics. However, no Champions League final was ever played here.
Estadio Vicente Calderón 54,907
Madrid, Spain | Atletico Madrid’s home ground hostem the 1982 World Cup games, which is why infrastructurally it met UEFA’s criteria. Enough to be on the 5-star list, but not enough to actually hold a final...
Veltins Arena 54,740
Gelsenkirchen, Germany | After opening in 2001 it was considered possibly the best stadium in Europe thanks to the sliding field and retractable roof. No wonder it held the 2004 Champions League final, two years before becoming one of the World Cup’s main venues.
Amsterdam ArenA 53,631
Amsterdam, the Netherlands | Rob Schuurman’s design became a groundbreaking multi-use stadium, surprisingly versatile in 1990s. And good enough to welcome Europe’s best clubs in 1998, before being the arena of Euro 2000 semifinal that saw Netherlands lose to Italy.
Hampden Park 51,866
Glasgow, Scotland | It’s not easy to find an existing stadium that could match Hampden Park in terms of history and major games. Three European Cup / Champions League games are just a fraction of the list.
Hamburg, Germany | Completely reconstructed in 1998, the Volksparkstadion in Hamburg got onto the list of 2006 World Cup hosts and at the same time onto the list of Europe’s best stadiums. But that wasn’t enough to hold a European final.
De Kuip 51,117
Rotterdam, the Netherlands | It’s a monument-listed stadium at this point, but thanks to thorough revamp of 1994 (including the roof) it entered the 21st century as one of Europe’s best stadiums. As exemplified by the Euro 2000 final held here.
Estádio do Dragão 50,948
Porto, Portugal | Though its largest ever game was a Euro 2004 semifinal, this stadium was – at least in terms of infrastructure – able to hold any European game when opened. Today it’s too small for Champions League final.
Vienna, Austria | National stadium of Austria used to hold games with much greater crowds, but ever since introduction of seats it’s had the size of roughly 50,000. Following the addition of roof in 1987 it strengthened its position among Europe’s top stadia, resulting in three Champions League finals: 1987, 1990 and 1995.
Ibrox Stadium 50,817
Glasgow, Scotland | The old façade of its main stand may suggest this stadium is aged, but Ibrox still can be considered modern. Specifically thanks to the redevelopments of 1990s. Only domestic finals were held here though, UEFA never awarded any of the main tournament games to Ibrox.
Şükrü Saracoglu Stadyumu 50,509
Istanbul, Turkey | When it underwent the complete reconstruction of 1999-2006, Fenerbahçe’s home ground became the best football-specific stadium of Turkey. And while it was never awarded a Champions League final, the building saw the very last UEFA Cup final in 2009, before the tournament’s name changed to Europa League.
Estádio José Alvalade 50,095
Lisbon, Portugal | It met the capacity criterion only by an ‘inch’, but eventually received its fifth UEFA star. Yet the stadium never hosted the Champions League final, settling with UEFA Cup final in 2005.
Requirements necessary to receive 5 stars from UEFA:
- Minimum capacity of 50,000 seats.
- Each seat has to be an individual seat with backrest, benches would not be considered.
- The field should have the size of 105x68m.
- Minimum distance between the field and stands of 6m along the sides and 7.5m behind goals.
- No perimeter fences around the field (moats allowed).
- Top class player and referee changing rooms (identical standard for each team, lit and bright). Each team changing room should have the surface of no less than 100 m2.
- Direct, protected and secure access routes for players and referees from the parking lot to the changing rooms and from these facilities onto the field.
- Adequate and well-equipped room for doping control.
- Analogically for the UEFA delegate.
- Floodlights of no less than 1,400 lux for the main camera position and no less than 1,000 lux for other parts of the stadium. Also, backup system of floodlights (or power source) possible to launch at every time and providing the same parameters.
- Modern and efficient public address system enabling transfer of information both in the stands, under them and around the stadium (doesn’t cover specific rooms for building users). The sound should be clear and understandable, possible to hear regardless of noise level within the crowd. The system needs to be independent of main power supply in order to operate in case of emergency.
- Surveillance system (CCTV) in colour, covering all public areas in the stadium and around it. The system needs to be able to provide clear photos of monitored areas at any time.
- Control room with monitors for the above-mentioned system, speaker’s position, video board and information. Police and fire departments should have their representatives within the room or directly next to it. The control room needs to provide direct and unobstructed view of the stands.
- Internationally understood signage in all public areas of the stadium and around it.
- Minimum of two sections, 50 places each, for the disabled and their companions. These seats have to be covered and have access to well-equipped toilet facilities.
- Toilets for fans of both genders should be provided in sufficient number and decent standard. Toilets without toilet seats will not be accepted.
- Highest quality of working space for media representatives, including well placed camera positions, TV studios and other rooms for broadcasting needs. Number of spots for various kinds of media representatives can vary depending on game (details can be found in UEFA Guidelines for Media Facilities).
- The stadium should offer highest quality of VIP spaces, including a minimum 200 seats within the VIP lounge. Additional hospitality area for 400 people, room to arrange similar spaces for both teams (2x200 seats) and enough room within direct vicinity of the stadium to hold the Champions Village (for CL final), able to hold 4,000 people.
Additional Champions League final requirements:
- International airport(s) able to serve additional 80 charters per day, open 24/7.
- Sufficient number of hotel rooms for UEFA and its partners, no less than 1,000 5-star beds. Additional capacity of lower grade hotels is also required.