Wednesday, 3 February 2010

Grounds Without Games: All Around Lisbon

Using map one of the Lonely Planet's 1998 guide to Lisbon, a plastic compass and the kind of urban navigation skills that da Gama himself would've been proud of (well, as long as we agree to overlook that muddy, motorway deadend right at the start), I found my way from the Estádio da Luz - the original and still very much the best Stadium of Light in the world - across the northern suburbs to the Estadio Jose Alvalade XXI, home of Sporting Clube de Portugal (or Sporting Lisbon, as we English like to call them for short).

The two teams' rivalry extends to areas off the pitch too: Benfica (Metro stop: Colegio Militar) having an imperial-style eagle tacked above the main entrance, a statue of Eusebio where the stadium tours start, stands sponsored by Sagres beer and a discount electronics supermarket shielding it from the road. Sporting, on the other hand, had their ground tiled in the club colours of green and white (making it look a little like a public urinal), with their own multi-screen cinema, food court, health centre, Lidl supermarket and a clubshop in which everything cost precisely double what I was prepared to pay. Each of the stands were sponsored by a different company - Super Bock, not Sagres here. Let's hope the classless clowns currently running Newcastle United don't get wind of this branding opportunity, eh?

Whaddya mean it doesn't look like a football stadium?

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