Great Grounds of Asia: East
Kuala Lumpur: East Asia is home to some of the world's most magnificent stadiums and this week, the-AFC.com features four iconic arenas from the region.
From the Olympics to the FIFA World Cup, these four stadiums have - in hosting major sporting events - showcased the culture and lifestyle of their people.
Here are the-AFC.com's choices for the Great Grounds of Asia: East.
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Workers' Stadium (Beijing, China PR)
Located in the Chaoyang District in the northeast of China PR’s capital, Workers’ Stadium is a multi-purpose venue with a capacity of just over 66,000 that is home to Chinese Super League club FC Beijing.
Workers’ Stadium was constructed in 1959 as one of the Ten Great Buildings to commemorate the 10th anniversary of the People’s Republic of China.
The venue hosted a number of major athletics meetings during the 1990s and witnessed world records being broken in the women’s 1,500m, 3,000m and 10,000m in 1993.
When China staged its first and to date only AFC Asian Cup in 2004, for which the venue again underwent renovation, Workers’ Stadium played host to all of the home team's games on their march to a second final appearance.
Four years later, the venue was also used for the Olympic Games and hosted the semi-finals of the men's and women’s tournaments as well as the women’s gold medal match between the USA and Brazil which the Americans won 1-0 after extra-time.
Saitama Stadium 2002 (Saitama, Japan)
The imposing 63,700-capacity Saitama Stadium 2002 was built to serve as a venue for the 2002 FIFA World Cup, which was co-hosted by Japan and Korea Republic. Located around 25 kilometres north of central Tokyo, Saitama Stadium hosted four games during the 2002 tournament, including Japan’s first game against Belgium as well as the semi-final between Brazil and Turkey.
Saitama Stadium remains a regular venue for the Japan national team, while it is the home ground for J.League-side Urawa Red Diamonds. Urawa are the best-supported club in Japan and regularly attract crowds of over 40,000 for J.League matches
Plans for the stadium were first made in the early 1990s and construction eventually started in 1998 before hosting its first game in October 2001 as Urawa entertained Yokohama F. Marinos in the J.League. With the stadium located just a 15-minute walk from the nearby Urawa Misono Station, Japan’s final round qualifiers for the 2018 FIFA World Cup were attended by nearly 60,000 passionate fans.
On the Continental club scene, a near capacity crowd saw Urawa win the 2007 AFC Champions League title after beating Islamic Republic of Iran’s Sepahan FC 2-0 in the second leg of the final.
Ten years later, Urawa defeated Saudi Arabia's Al Hilal SFC before their adoring fans to lift the AFC Champions League trophy again.
Seoul World Cup Stadium (Seoul, Korea Republic)
One of the most recognisable football venues in East Asia, Seoul World Cup Stadium was built ahead of the 2002 FIFA World Cup in Korea Republic and Japan. Located in the Seongsandong neighbourhood of the Mapo-gu district, the 66,704-capacity venue is the centrepiece of a park comprising a supplementary stadium and three futsal arenas.
The stadium is the largest football-only venue in the country and boasts a distinctly Korean feel to it. Standing 50 metres high and held up by 16 masts, its stunning roof is shaped like a traditional kite and, adding to its nationalistic flavour, it appears to be made out of the traditional paper, hanji.
Opened in November 2001, Seoul World Cup Stadium couldn’t have been given grander introduction to a worldwide audience. On May 31, 2002, defending champions France were humbled 1-0 by Senegal in the opening game of the FIFA World Cup as Asia’s first staging of the tournament kicked off with a bang. The venue was later the setting for the end of Korea Republic’s remarkable run as the Taeguk Warriors exited 1-0 to Germany in the semi-finals.
Since those heady days, the stadium has staged numerous FIFA World Cup qualifiers as well as the 2007 FIFA U-17 World Cup. It is also the home to FC Seoul, winners of six K-League Classic titles - including three since taking up residency.
Tianhe Stadium (Guangzhou, China PR)
Having opened back in 1987, it is only in relatively recent times that two-time AFC Champions League winners Guangzhou have moved in. But its occupants’ success on the continent has added further colour to the story of a venue that had already staged top-class sporting events.
Construction on the venue began in 1984 before it officially opened three years later when it staged the sixth National Games of China. Then in 1991, when the first-ever FIFA Women’s World Cup was hosted in China’s Guangdong province, Tianhe Stadium was the setting for a number of games including China’s last-eight defeat to Sweden and the final, in which the USA were crowned world champions after a 2-1 win over Norway.
Tianhe Stadium was the main venue for the Asian Games in 2010, hosting the finals of both the men’s and women’s football tournaments. A year later it became the home of Guangzhou.
In 2015, the stadium was the second-leg setting for the AFC Champions League final between Guangzhou and Al Ahli of the United Arab Emirates. For the second time in three years, the Chinese Super League side were crowned Continental champions as Elkeson’s goal secured a 1-0 aggregate win.
Got a favourite stadium in mind? Pick your top two in this week's selection below! (Poll ends at 1700 (UTC 8) on May 14).
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