The Champions League final is the pinnacle of European football, so could you imagine what it would be like if club football’s most prestigious competition was played outside of Europe?
UEFA president Aleksander Ceferin, who was re-elected for another four years in February, hinted last year about the possibility of relocating the Champions League final to a different continent following the logistical and financial nightmares Kiev posed in 2018.
This season’s final is set to take place in Atletico Madrid’s spectacular Wanda Metropolitano stadium, before Istanbul hosts the 2020 decider – 15 years on from that famous Liverpool comeback.
But what if UEFA eventually decide to push the Champions League elsewhere?
Here, we’ve taken a look at the stadiums around the world that could make the shortlist.
MetLife Stadium, New York, USA
This glamorous venue is the home of two NFL franchises – the New York Jets and the New York Giants – but the MetLife stadium has also entertained a number of high-profile international football matches, along with pre-season friendlies between some of Europe’s elite clubs.
Built in 2011 and costing an incredible $1.6 billion to complete, the stadium consists of retractable seating which enables it to create a pitch which meets FIFA requirements.
The three tiered stadia provides a good view of the action no matter where you are sitting, and there is an unusual perk to this stadium – the press conference room is surrounded by glass, allowing fans to watch and listen.
A capacity crowd of 82,000 people turned out to see Barcelona beat Juventus 2-1 in the 2017 International Champions Cup, and a sell-out crowd were also present to see Chile’s success in the Copa America in 2016.
For what it’s worth, a trip to New York for the Champions League final would be a pretty special occasion, even if it did put a dent in your wallet.
Mercedes-Benz Stadium, Atlanta, USA
The new state-of-the-art Mercedes-Benz Stadium is arguably the most stunning football stadia to have ever been designed.
The Champions League is the pinnacle of club football across the world, and there are not many better stadiums to host it than this revolutionary sports arena which cost a staggering $1.6 billion to build.
The stadium is shared between MLS side Atlanta United and the NFL’s Atlanta Falcons, and the multi-purpose stadia hosted a record attendance of 73,000 spectators in December 2018 for the MLS Cup final.
And for VAR supporters, the 62,350 square foot video screen that sits just below the roof means it should be easy enough for officials to spot any questionable decisions during the game.
The only downside, of which is an issue for many of these other venues, is the cost required for the normal fan to venture out to Atlanta.
King Fahd International Stadium, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia
The largest stadium in Saudi Arabia, the King Fahd International Stadium boasts a modern design and is equally large as it is impressive, holding a capacity crowd of 68,000.
Nicknamed the ‘Pearl of Stadiums’, the multi-purpose stadia was built in 1987 and to this day still doesn’t look outdated thanks to the work of architects Ian Fraser and John Roberts.
The unique roof design consists of 24 columns which act as a heat-resistant umbrella against Riyadh’s desert climate.
Of course, holding the Champions League final here will have its complications.
Due to the strict application of Sharia Law, Saudi Arabia has its issues with women’s rights and on top of that, isn’t the cheapest destination for European fans to travel too.
Maracana Stadium, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
One of the adopting homes of football, the Maracana stadium was at the heart of the 2014 FIFA World Cup and also hosted the opening and closing ceremonies in the 2016 Rio Olympics.
The 78,000 seater stadium was renovated in 2013 prior to hosting the World Cup, however in the aftermath of the Rio Olympics was left in a state of disrepair as rising debts and legal issues meant that the stadium was not maintained.
Since April 2017, however, the stadium has been refurbished and administered by a French group called Lagardere, with the two clubs of Flamengo and Fluminense returning to their famous home.
Imagine a Champions League final being played at the Maracana, and Neymar scores the winning goal. Until PSG surpass the quarter-final stage of the Champions League, then we can keep on dreaming.
Cairo International Stadium, Cairo, Egypt
Host to the Egypt national team and clubs Al Ahly and Zamalek, this 75,000 seater stadium is well-known for being able to generate an incredible atmosphere.
Initially built in 1960, the stadium underwent a major renovation in 2005 ahead of the 2006 African Cup of Nations.
The architect involved with the development of the stadium, Werner March, was also a lead designer for the Olympic stadium in Berlin – both being a similar, oval design.
Cairo’s location is fairly accessible, however it would be the security concerns from either side of the border which could perhaps cause a stir amongst clubs and supporters.
Khalifa International Stadium, Doha, Qatar
If FIFA have a blossoming relationship with Qatar, then in this instance we will assume UEFA might have one too. The Khalifa International Stadium was the first of 12 proposed World Cup venues to be finished in preparation for Qatar’s 2022 tournament, with a number of stadiums still remaining under construction.
The multi-purpose stadium is limited to a capacity of 40,000, but has previously hosted international friendlies between England and Brazil prior to its most recent upgrades.
Similarly to that of the World Cup, climate conditions would be an issue here. Could you imagine a Champions League final being rescheduled for the winter?