Football is a truly global sport and people all over the world will find pretty much anywhere to play it.
From a pitch 2000m high to pitches on rooftops and even floating on the water here are some of the strangest places to play the beautiful game.
Toftir, Faroe Islands
The Faroe Islands were one of the teams you played first on the FIFA World Cup video games to learn the controls but despite its footballing weakness, it has some stunning venues.
What makes this stadium (if you can call it a stadium) so special is the location. The Svangaskard Stadium sits precariously on the edge of rugged rocks above the Atlantic Ocean and surrounded by lakes and hills. There is often a man waiting in a boat down below to collect any stray balls.
Probably one of the only pitches where you can watch football and count it as somewhat educational. Home to HNK Trogir in the Croatian sixth tier, this stadium sits slap bang in the middle of two UNESCO World Heritage Sights, the Tower of St. Marco and Kamerlengo Castle. Not quite sure how they got planning permission for this one…
Ottmar Hitzfeld Stadium
FC Gspon only has 100 members but they’ve managed to make a name for themselves through their pitch. Sitting at 2008m above sea level it is the highest football pitch in Europe and is only accessible either by foot or cable car.
The altitude doesn’t come without its problems though. Due to the high altitude, it is virtually impossible to grow and maintain a grass pitch so artificial turf must be used during the season. The club is also getting through footballs rather quickly as around seven are lost over the cliff face per match.
Estadio Janguito Malucelli
The Estadio Janguito Malucelli in Curitiba made headlines as the world’s first ever eco-stadium. The aim of it was to create a football stadium that has no environmental impact on the surrounding area whilst remaining fully functional.
All the materials for the teams’ dressing rooms and squad benches have been taken from wood originating in sustainably managed forests. Alongside this the seating for fans is made of plastic that is dug into special holes on sloped banks running parallel to the pitch and the infrastructure for the stadium itself is iron made from disused railway sleepers.
It might be a world away from the likes of the San Siro or the Santiago Bernabeu but it’s refreshing to see football looking to the future.
TJ Tatran Čierny Balog Stadium
Čierny Balog, Slovakia
You might take the train to get to the stadium to see your team play but the TJ Tatran Čierny Balog Stadium (spellchecked numerous times) in Slovakia takes this quite literally.
There is a live railway wedged between the stands and the pitch. This makes for an interesting time for the away side when a train appears out of nowhere blowing steam and tooting its horn and generally making a huge amount of noise.
One might think they would schedule the matches around the train times but where’s the fun in that?
Most clubs have a club shop or megastore attached to them but FC Voždovac Belgrade prefers an entire shopping centre underneath it, so much so that the pitch is dwarfed. They play in the Serbian Superliga, the country’s top division, alongside teams such as Red Star Belgrade.
Opened in August 2013 it is one of the only rooftop stadiums in Europe that meets all the necessary criteria for Champions League and Europa League matches. If you get bored of the Serbian football (which is very likely) then you can always head down and do some shopping. Ideal.
The Float at Marina Bay
Marina Bay, Singapore
What you see is not what you get with The Float. Other than looking incredible from the surface of the water it is what’s underneath which makes this stadium a gem of world football.
There are many problems that could arise with a floating pitch, the most obvious being it sinking but engineers used six pylons on the seabed and heavy-duty rubber rollers to stop this happening and to stop it being rocked by the tide.
Adidas Futsal Park
This pitch is the easiest of the lot for any punter to play on as it is available to book. Built in 2001 for the 2002 FIFA World Cup it sits atop a department store in downtown Tokyo. Due to a lack of space in Tokyo at street level, they had to start using rooftops for recreational pitches and it’s worked an absolute treat. Prices start at ¥5,250 (£38) per hour for teams that are members and ¥8,400 (£60) for teams that aren’t, rising to over ¥20,000 (£140) for 1.5 hours during peak times. Thankfully there are nets to keep balls (and people) safely on the pitch.
Prices start at ¥5,250 (£38) per hour for teams that are members and ¥8,400 (£60) for teams that aren’t, rising to over ¥20,000 (£140) for 1.5 hours during peak times. Thankfully there are nets to keep balls (and people) safely on the pitch.
Pitches have been squeezed onto coastlines and when there’s no more room, put on top of buildings and on water. The beauty of football is that all you need is a ball and somewhere to play…and occasionally some nets to stop people from falling off a building.