More Than A Stadium
There are football clubs that are simply iconic and transcend the barriers found in the sport. FC Barcelona are certainly one of the beautiful game's giants which do just that, in keeping with the club motto, "més que un club" ("more than a club" in Catalan). Los Azulgranas have earnt international acclaim through the club's glory periods, a footballing philosophy that is instantly recognised the world over, having had some of the best footballers of all time in their ranks, and what is currently the biggest stadium in Europe.
Just like the club itself, the Camp Nou has gone above and beyond its pure footballing purpose, becoming an emblem that represents an entire city and a philosophy that is passed on to players, both young and old. The footballing house of worship was inaugurated in 1957 and has played host to countless legends of the game, such as Johan Cruyff, Diego Maradona, Ronaldo, Ronaldinho and Lionel Messi. They have all felt at home at the 99,354-capacity stadium, which is the third biggest in the world.
Despite being dubbed the Camp Nou ("new pitch" in Catalan) after the club left its old ground, Les Corts, the current stadium has witnessed a host of historic moments both for the team and the rest of football as a whole. Two European Cup finals have been staged there, as well as the opening game of the 1982 World Cup in Spain and a plethora of national finals. The wealth of history reverberating around the terraces is exactly why playing at the Camp Nou has become one of the dreams that every player wishes to fulfil at some point in their career. The setting is definitely used to good football, as Xavi stated: "If a defender hoofs the ball, you can hear the groans."
The combination of all these factors makes attending a Barcelona match here an experience that thousands of tourists long to enjoy every other weekend. If you also consider the massive flocks of visitors to a city like Barcelona, you can see how lucky those that do get their hands on a ticket are, safe in the knowledge that a real spectacle awaits. The steep stands, with almost 100,000 people chanting "Messi, Messi" or yelling "gol" and the incredible mosaics ahead of big games mean the ingredients are simply unrivalled. The Camp Nou does not stop there, however, with its museum listed as one of the most visited attractions in the city, which is why a trip to the stadium is almost a must for those who love and do not love football alike. Looking ahead, there is still more to come at the ground, with a highly promising renovation and expansion project approved back in 2016.
Prestigious Japanese firm Nikken Sekkei won the tender to renovate the Camp Nou, with its capacity set to be increased by 6,000 to 105,000, with all fans able to be seated and covered. The works will also entail significant improvements to the stadium's exterior, entrances, facilities and the surrounding areas.
The new Camp Nou will be unique, different, innovative and brimming with personality, as a new, vast, covered, comfortable and accessible space which is adapted to the times and people. The stadium will fit hand-in-hand with the club's expansion project which aims to bring it closer to the whole world and will allow both Barcelona and the Camp Nou to continue to be about much more than just football.
Nou Camp Factfile