These stadiums have seen the making of several legends in India.
India dazzled the world with top quality infrastructure in the 2017 version of the U-17 World Cup. The age group FIFA World Cup was dubbed the ‘most economic World Cup’ ever and the Indian stadiums were very influential in adding the glamour quotient to the Mega-Event.
This brings a question to our minds, which has been asked by many about these stadiums. Were these stadiums only for the age group World Cup or have they been part of Indian football’s history since long?
Khel Now decided to dig into the annals of history, to answer this question and bring you five of India’s historic and most iconic stadiums with footballing history.
5. Cooperage Football Stadium (Mumbai)
This may shock you as it is a stadium which at its best times had the capacity of 7,000 people at most. Nevertheless, the amount of history surrounding this iconic Stadium is legendary. The Western India Football Association has been hosting matches here since pre-independence days.
The Cooperage Ground used to host Rovers Cup fixtures back in the day
The legendary Rovers Cup used to take place at this very venue and teams from Europe as well as across India would actively participate in this tournament. In fact, it was a huge honor to participate in this tournament and people from all walks of life would flood the stadium to catch a glimpse of the stars.
The most memorable teams to have played here and who would draw most crowds were the Bengal Giants, East Bengal FC and Mohun Bagan. An announcement of the Kolkata giants’ matches here would sell out the stadium weeks in advance.
Although now not in use, the stadium still hosts a number of local league matches and is the epicentre of football in Mumbai.
4. Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium (Kochi)
The home of the iconic Indian Super League (ISL) outfit Kerala Blasters, the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium in Kochi no less than a Colosseum. It has a packed and centered infrastructure which makes the noise reverberate from the centre to the outside causing fear in the heart of the opposition.
The Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium in Kochi is one of the most iconic stadiums in India
Also known as the Kaloor Stadium, it was originally constructed as a football stadium. In a match between India and Iraq in 1997, approximately 100,000 spectators filled up the venue, thus overcrowding it, which remains a record at this place.
The stadium was completed under the watchful eyes of late V. Joseph Thomas IPS who was the head of the Greater Cochin Development Authority. Thomas was a huge fan of football from his college days at St. Thomas College, Palai and also served as the patron of the Kerala State Athletics Association.
The football stadium was occupied by the erstwhile Chirag United FC and had enjoyed some fandom but it returned to prominence with ISL with the massive fan base of the Kerala Blasters. The stadium has a lot of historical importance and seemingly is still building on its stature through the Blasters.
3. Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium (New Delhi)
One of the costliest stadiums ever built in India, the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium in New Delhi is a multi-sport Arena and many sports federations lay claim to it. It was built for the 1982 Asian Games which India hosted and has been renovated over time to accommodate various prominent matches and events.
The Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium in New Delhi hosted the Indian U-17 side in the FIFA U-17 World Cup
Most recently it played host to the India Team in the U-17 World Cup and was able to attract huge crowds from across India. The massive infrastructure of the stadium which captures the eye and the top level facilities it provides are jaw-dropping.
Currently, the Delhi Dynamos use it for the Indian Super League and is also one of the biggest stadiums with a capacity of 60,000 people at its peak. Also being situated in the Capital, it plays host to many national events.
2. Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium (Goa)
Ever heard of a quality stadium being built in just six months and still standing tall today, albeit good renovation? If yes then it is this majestic Stadium. Popularly known as the Fatorda Stadium, it is an iconic stadium in Goa and occupies prime real estate in Margao.
Fatorda Stadium hosted the 2016 edition of the AFC U-16 Championships as well
If you consider the last 10 years, the highest number of professional football matches have been played at this majestic venue. This is due to a combination of factors. There was a time, before the exodus of the Goan teams from the National circuit where as many as 5 Goan clubs and this meant a high number of matches at this stadium which every Goan side called home.
Built under the Guidance of Monte Cruz, then Sports Minister of Goa, in 1986, the Fatorda even accommodated its sporting cousin, Cricket and has been a prime spot for the Indian National Teams’ matches where they have received much love from the Goan faithful.
Currently being leased out to FC Goa, the Margoa based stadium has seen packed days this past year under Sergio Lobera who ensured FC Goa played attractive attacking football.
1. Swami Vivekananda Yuba Bharati Krirangan (Kolkata)
Popularly known as the Salt Lake Stadium, it is the beloved home of many Kolkata sides since nearly a century.
The two giants of Indian Football, East Bengal and Mohun Bagan use this for many of their home matches and is also the home of ISL franchise from the city, ATK. Apart from this, it was also the venue for the final of the FIFA U-17 World Cup last year.
The Salt Lake Stadium is also home to the world-famous Kolkata Derby
Just to put things into perspective, this stadium was built out of necessity. You may wonder what may have pushed the authorities to make a one lakhs+ capacity stadium in 1989? It was due to a simple reason. The lesser capacity stadiums in the city were just not enough for the humongous crowds.
Before its renovation in 2011, this was the second largest stadium in the world with the official maximum capacity of 1,20,000 people. In fact, until 1989 it enjoyed the fame of being the largest stadium in the world. The largest official attendance it recorded was in 1997 when 1,31,781 supporters watched the semi-final of the Federation Cup in a Kolkata Derby.
Disclaimer: Apart from Cooperage Football Stadium, all other stadiums are multi-purpose international stadiums.