China’s Stadium Diplomacy Reaches a Fever Pitch in Africa

"For relatively small outlays - usually well short of $100 million - China constructs a sterile national arena that can be opened with long speeches and presidents in tailored suits kicking balls for the cameras, in return for sweetened access to natural resources, votes at the United Nations and the marginalization of Taiwan."

Since the mid-1970s, China has embarked on a strategy of Stadium Diplomacy, constructing more than 50 stadiums throughout the developing world.

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Stockholm says goodbye to the Söderstadion

It’s out with the old and in with the new this summer at some of Europe’s finest grounds. First to go was Athletic Bilbao’s San Mamés, and now it’s the Söderstadion in Stockholm, Sweden. Yesterday, Hammarby played its final match at the Söderstadion, and the scenes were unforgettable. The stadium that has been the club’s home since 1967 bids farewell and will be replaced by the more modern Tele2 Arena. As thousands of fans experienced yesterday, it’s never easy to look past 46 years of history. [Images via. Posted by Eric]

Stade Saputo in the Snow

We traveled to the Montréal Impact’s Stade Saputo at the end of March, and caught it in a wintry state before the stadium’s season opener. Make sure to watch this in high definition. The place is nothing short of beautiful.

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A Saturday afternoon at the Cottage, Craven Cottage.

"Welcome to West London, Dominic."

Since moving to London I’ve been fortunate to visit a few grounds, probably not as many as expected, but my latest outing is certainly one I’ll remember. My trip to watch Fulham take on Stoke City last weekend through the company of Dominic Bliss (editor of The Inside Left), who happens to share the same name as me, was both an experience and education provided by the beautiful game. 

Although we only naturally spoke about one topic, it never felt like I was heading to a football match. There were few fans wearing scarves on the tube, something which is unusual to me as I’ve grown up as a passionate sócio BenfiquistaThe walk across Putney bridge felt more like a tourist guide of the city’s capital and the silent, chilly stroll through Bishop’s Park reminded me of a typical Saturday morning, not a football day. But the two of us, one clearly more wrapped up than the other, followed a stream of dedicated fans; we were going to see The Whites, as they’re called.

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Meanwhile in New York, the Cosmos make $400m plans

It’s no secret that the revamped New York Cosmos are hoping to make a splash as they return to professional soccer in the North American Soccer League (NASL) this August. It’s no secret that Major League Soccer wants its 20th team to be in Queens.

Today, the Cosmos launched a microsite with full details about their plan to privately fund a new 25k seat stadium in Belmont Park, almost on the border of Queens and Long Island. The proposed stadium hoping to open in 2016 is designed by Populous, the firm behind projects like the Emirates, Wembley, and the London 2012 Olympic Stadium. Questions are being raised as to whether or not the New York City area could even support 3 clubs, but before we get to 3 we need to get to 2. A fair share of drama lies ahead between the Cosmos and MLS, as does plenty of entertainment, but it’s reasonable to say that this could be an extravagant, exciting leap forward.

We’re only scratching the surface, so for more information here’s…

What’s your reaction? Full support, skepticism, or thinking this is general step forward for the sport in the States?

A Fitting Farewell to Grêmio’s Olímpico Monumental

With the 2014 World Cup creeping up on us, Brazil is in the process of sweeping out the old and bringing in the new. This past weekend, one of South America’s most iconic stadiums, the Olímpico Monumental in Porto Alegre, held its last match for Grêmio since opening in 1954. The oh so modern Grêmio Arena looks as sleek as can be, but there’s nothing like the character that history gives to an old Brazilian place of worship.

Featuring Danrle and Jardel, (part of the Copa Libertadores-winning team in 1995) and Hugo de León (1983 Copa Libertadores and Intercontinental Cup winner), this video shows just what a special place the 45,000 seat Olímpico Monumental was, and why Grêmio fans won’t be forgetting it any time soon. [Posted by Eric]

Poland’s 58,000 seat chocolate national stadium. That’s right.

If you’re hungry, look away. Poland’s new national stadium in Warsaw will host the opening match of EURO 2012 (only 134 days away!), along with two other group stage matches, a quarterfinal, and a semifinal. The stadium itself (fourth picture) is almost finished, but with all the typical hype surrounding a prestigious international tournament we found this delicious creation.

The chocolate model of the National Stadium was made on a 1:130 scale and weighs 400 kilograms. The designer, so to speak, is renowned confectioner Janusz Profus. Since we’ve already committed to a food post, we’ll let you know that it’s made of milk, white, and bitter chocolate. Oh, and the construction of the model started in December, only finishing less than two weeks ago. That, my friends, is being committed to food.

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