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The Iconic Cairo International Stadium Tops MARCA's Stadium Poll

The Iconic Cairo International Stadium Tops MARCA's Stadium Poll

At the beginning of May 2020, Spanish sports newspaper MARCA released the results of their recent poll which invited readers to vote for the greatest football arenas in the world, with the Cairo International Stadium surprisingly coming out on top. The multi-use venue finished ahead of iconic grounds such as the Nou Camp and Real Madrid's Santiago Bernabeu Stadium, both of which attract millions of visitors each year.

Top 25 Stadiums

Both of the aforementioned La Liga venues made it into the top five, whilst the intimidating San Mames Stadium also proved popular with voters. The all-seater stadium is located in the Spanish Basque Country and is home to Athletic Bilbao. The eighth-largest stadium in the country was officially opened in 2013, replacing the old venue and, shortly after construction was completed, it was selected as one of the twelve host venues for Euro 2020.

Although the tournament will now take place in 2021, the games will still be spread across the continent, with the San Mames staging a round of 16 contests, as well as several Group E games. Spain will face Sweden in their opening match of the tournament in Bilbao, and La Roja will be expected to get off to a winning start in front of a largely partisan crowd. As of May 10th 2020, Luis Enrique's men are 9/1 with Betway to secure their fourth European Championship, and should benefit from all three of their group games being held at this familiar location.

Colo Colo's Monumental de Chile also featured in the top five, and has previously hosted several International contests; including two matches at the 2015 Copa America. The impressive Santiago venue amassed over 30,000 votes, finishing narrowly ahead of Atletico Madrid's Wanda Metropolitano.

Liverpool's Anfield Stadium and Manchester United's Old Trafford are flying the flag for the Premier League, whilst Iran's Azadi Stadium was the only Asian representative to make it onto the list. River Plate's Estadio Monumental and Ajax's Johan Cruyff Arena, which is set to increase its capacity over the coming months, also both snuck into the top 25.

Cairo International Stadium

The Cairo International Stadium regularly hosts Egyptian Premier League contests involving local heavyweights Al Ahly and Zamalek, and has been hosting top-class sporting events since 1960. With a capacity of almost 75,000, this magnificent structure has also staged a number of key international fixtures over the last six decades including three African Cup of Nations finals as well as the 1991 All-Africa games.

It was built by architect Werner March, who is also responsible for Berlin's Olympic Stadium, and prior to becoming an all-seater venue, it was able to hold up to 100,000 spectators. It underwent a major refurbishment program in 2006 ahead of the African Cup of Nations, a tournament which saw the home nation edge past Ivory Coast on penalties to secure the first of three successive titles in the competition.

Perhaps one of the most iconic Egyptian players to grace the Cairo International Stadium is Hossam Hassan. The prolific goalscorer was a regular in the capital having turned out for both Al Ahly and Zamalek, although his crowning moment arrived when he netted the decisive goal for his country and helped to secure their participation at Italia 90'. It was Egypt's first appearance at the tournament since 1934, and it was his header which helped the Pharaohs edge past North African rivals Algeria.

He also captained the side during their 2006 success in the AFCON despite having entered his fifth decade, and has since returned to the stadium in a managerial capacity.

What Makes it so Special?

Although the stadium itself is a hugely impressive feat of engineering, the majority of visitors are overawed by the intense atmosphere within the ground - and this helps the venue to stand out from the crowd. Egyptian football fans tend to pack out the stands and create a wall of noise, which helps to generate an increasingly intimidating experience for both opposition players and supporters. Matches between Cairo clubs Al Ahly and Zamalek are always hugely anticipated and often violent affairs, and the noise from the stadium can be heard several miles away.

As well as being a hugely recognizable Cairo landmark, the stadium is also located close to the airport and attracts thousands of visitors each year. It is the most famous sporting coliseum in Africa, and remains one of the most football's iconic venues.

Although its place at the top of the poll was somewhat unexpected, it is easy to see why the Cairo International Stadium is so popular with sports fans. The stadium is one of the most iconic settings in world football, and with 122 million votes, MARCA readers have decided that this iconic venue is the game's greatest stadium.

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