Most Hostile Football Stadiums to Visit in South America
Everyone with a passing interest in football knows that South America is one of the game's most special arenas. A cursory look around the best players in the world—the likes of Lionel Messi, Sergio Aguero, Neymar, Luis Suarez and Radamel Falcao—is enough to demonstrate that the continent lives to produce world-class talent capable of reaching the highest peaks in the game.
The fans do not let the side down either.
South American supports have long had a reputation for passion and fanaticism, expressed through ingenious chants, musical accompaniment in the stands and constant movement among the thousands that pack the terraces.
For all these reasons, away days in Argentina, Brazil and elsewhere are almost always intense encounters. Here are just a few of the most intimidating stadiums across South America.
The Bombonera (Boca Juniors)
Alongside Santos, Boca are one of the first teams that come to mind when discussing South American football. The Xeneize boast a glittering history, triumphs on a world stage, and of course, the support of one Diego Maradona, who wore their colours with pride before leaving for Europe.
Their stadium is also an unmissable sight for visitors to Buenos Aires.
The Bombonera (chocolate box) is named for the unique shape of the lateral stands, which rise from the ground almost vertically due to space restrictions in the La Boca neighbourhood, which gave the club its title.
This creates a wall of noise when the home team scores that appears to shake the stadium to its core, and the claustrophobic, suffocating streets that surround the ground also contribute to the sense that the away fan is most definitely behind enemy lines.
Estadio Centenario (Penarol and Uruguay)
Few stadiums can boast a greater history than this imposing Montevideo megalith. The Centenario played host to the first-ever World Cup final in 1930, and over 93,000 fans watched the Celeste defeat Argentina 4-2 and become the maiden winners of football's biggest tournament.
The national team still use the impeccably maintained ground for home games, as do local giants Penarol.
While its open design and status as an international stadium does not bode especially well for creating a hostile atmosphere, a lax control on pyrotechnics for big games usually means an impressive sight. Take a look at the video above, ahead of a Penarol's Copa Libertadores semi-final in 2011 to see for yourselves!
La Olla (Cerro Porteno)
Officially named the Estadio General Pablo Rojas, the home of Paraguayan giants Cerro Porteno earned its nickname of the Olla (cooking pot) due to the frenzied atmosphere cooked up by fans which more often than not turns the stadium into a cauldron.
The Olla was built in the working-class district of Barrio Obrero, Asuncion in 1936. Construction was aided by the forced labour of many Bolivian soldiers, who had been captured during the bloody Chaco War between the two South American nations.
To this day, things have not improved much for visitors to Barrio Obrero. The Olla is converted into a hellish place for away fans thanks to a heady mix of pyrotechnics, packed stands and fanatical fans, and there are fewer places on the continent where it is harder to get a result.
Atanasio Girardot (Atletico Nacional and DIM)
The city of Medellin is known in Colombia by the charming nickname, the "City of Eternal Spring" thanks to moderated tropical temperatures that keep the weather at a balmy 16-30 degrees Celsius (61-86 degrees Fahrenheit) year round.
On the other hand, Colombia's second largest metropolis also plays host to a football derby that is as fiery as any in the world, played exclusively in the Estadio Atanasio Girardot.
Both Atletico Nacional and Independiente Medellin call this 45,000 capacity stadium home, and despite rarely filling it to the brim, both sets of fans have produced some shocking scenes of violence in recent years.
The last pitched battle between the two inside and outside the stadium yielded a grim total of nine injured, 350 arrests and over 400 confiscated weapons, according to El Dia, proving that the Girardot is a place to avoid on derby day.
Hernando Siles (Bolivia, Bolivar, the Strongest, La Paz FC)
Why is the Estadio Hernando Siles such an intimidating place for away fans to visit? Well, there is the fact that newcomers to the stadium might not be able to breathe comfortably, for a start.
La Paz's biggest ground lies 3600 meters above sea level, making it one of the highest professional stadiums on the planet. Unaccustomed to the altitude, teams from the outside have historically struggled even though on paper they may be favourites; just witness Argentina's humiliating 6-1 defeat to Bolivia back in 2009 for a perfect example.
The fans of the Bolivian national team and Bolivar, The Strongest and La Paz FC in club football try to live up to this fearsome reputation with their frenzied support, and few teams from outside La Paz enjoy the trip up to the Siles.