For the past few weeks, casual and diehard soccer fans around the world have been glued to the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia, which has been filled with no shortage of thrilling wins and agonizing losses throughout. Although the tournament wraps up this weekend, with one country’s team set to lift the sport’s most coveted trophy on Sunday at Moscow’s Luzhniki Stadium, there’s no need to wait four years for your next football fix. Whether you’re looking to visit some of history’s most hallowed pitches or one-of-a-kind architectural wonders, here’s five cities to which you should consider booking a trip — and maybe catching a game (or two!) sooner rather than later.
Buenos Aires, Argentina
Despite exiting his year’s World Cup far earlier than many expected, Argentina has a longstanding reputation as a South American soccer powerhouse. Buenos Aires is where you can find the headquarters of the Argentine Football Association, one of the first governing football bodies to be established outside of Europe in 1893, and highly beloved Primera División squads including Boca Juniors and River Plate.
From MLS’ Cascada Cup (Seattle Sounders and Portland Timbers) to the Premier League’s North London Derby (Arsenal and Tottenham), there’s plenty of great soccer rivalies around the world, but few divide a country like Mexico’s El Súper Clásico. Held at least twice a year between Club Deportivo Guadalajara, most commonly known as Las Chivas (chiva is “goat” in Spanish and their mascot is the horned beast), and the Mexico City-based Club America, the former are historically known for their predominantly Mexican rosters while the latter spent millions on foreign players.
Johannesburg, South Africa
The 2010 World Cup might have (unfortunately) introduced sports fans to the infernal racket of vuvuzelas, it also marked the debut of the renovated 94,700-capacity FNB Stadium, which is nicknamed “The Calabash” for its resemblance to the African gourd. Not only has it hosted international and Kaizer Chiefs games, but Nelson Mandela made his first major public appearance there in 1990 following his release from prison.
London might boast more professional, semi-professional, and amateur clubs, but when it comes to English soccer meccas, Manchester more than holds its own. Manchester City and Manchester United are two of the most popular—and profitable according to Forbes—Premier League teams, regularly drawing colossal crowds to Etihad Stadium and Old Trafford. Designed by Scottish architect Archibald Leitch, the latter (nicknamed “The Theatre of Dreams” by British midfielder Sir Bobby Charlton) was built in 1909, and survived a German bombing during World War II.
Rio De Janeiro, Brazil
Pelé. Ronaldo. Neymar. There’s countries who have produced generations of superstars, and then there’s Brazil, whose most famous players are commonly known worldwide by their first names or nicknames only. Besides being home to the winningest men’s national team (five World Cup titles), Rio de Janeiro’s Maracanã Stadium also hosted the opening and closing ceremonies of the 2016 Summer Olympics and Paralympics.