History

Chelsea's Olympic Stadium heritage

The Blues have a long and storied past when it comes to playing in Olympic Stadiums all over the world, and here the official Chelsea website delves into the history books to detail them ahead of our next such encounter in Kiev tonight.

Ukraine’s premier sports venue hosted seven football matches during the Moscow Olympics of 1980. At that time the 80,000-seater was known as the Republican Stadium, but after Ukraine gained independence following the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, it was renamed the Olympic Stadium in a nod to its involvement in the world’s biggest sporting occasion the previous decade.

So the jewel in Kiev’s sporting crown does not feature on the list of the main Olympic Stadiums Chelsea have played at, 10 in total.

One of those is of course the Luzhniki Stadium in Moscow, which was the showpiece in 1980 when Kiev featured. Our memories of the 2008 Champions League final are not good, but we did beat Spartak Moscow there (2010) and also progressed past Rubin Kazan in the Europa League quarter-finals (2013).

Chelsea’s first match at an Olympic Stadium was 50 years ago, at what is likely the least well-known of such venues we have played at. DWS Amsterdam were our opponents at the Olympisch Stadion for the second leg of an Inter-Cities Fairs Cup second round tie that finished goalless. The Dutch capital had hosted the Summer Games in 1928. Amsterdam’s Olympic Stadium is still in use today, though not for football.

More recently, Champions League trips have taken us to Stadio Olimpicos in Rome (2003, 2009 and 2017) and Turin (2009), and Olympiastadions in the German cities of Berlin (1999) and Munich (2005).

The Italian capital hosted the Summer Games in 1960, and we have enjoyed mixed results away to Lazio and Roma over the years. Juventus were groundsharing with their city neighbours when we played them in 2009 at the venue that had taken centre stage during the Winter Olympics three years prior.

Politics dominated the agenda when Berlin hosted in 1936, shortly before the start of the Second World War, and in Munich in 1972 when a terrorist attack overshadowed the sport. We lost to Hertha Berlin in our first ever Champions League away game in September 1999, and to Bayern Munich at their former home in April 2005, though we still advanced from that quarter-final tie with an aggregate win.

Closer to home, we were no strangers to the old Wembley - the centrepiece of the 1948 London Olympics - particularly in its final years.

In the east of the capital, West Ham’s home is now known as the London Stadium, which played host to some of the best moments in British sporting history in 2012.

Four years earlier, the Bird’s Nest Stadium in Beijing was the focal point for the Summer Games, and we ran out there in a pre-season friendly win against Arsenal in 2017.

Our other experience of a main Olympic Stadium outside Europe was in Sydney, hosts at the start of the millennium. At what is now known as the ANZ Stadium, we beat local side Sydney FC 1-0 in front of a record crowd for a football match in the city, over 83,000. That was a post-season friendly in 2015 (pictured top).

In addition, our women’s team have experience of playing in an Olympic venue. Their big Champions League victory away to FSK Sarajevo last year was at the Asim Ferhatovic Hase Stadium, which was the venue for the opening ceremony of the 1984 Winter Olympics in what was then Yugoslavia, and is now Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Over the years we have played at many more stadiums that have hosted Olympic football matches but were not the principal venue for the Games. These range from the Stanford Stadium in California, to the Olympic Park Stadium in Melbourne, to plenty in the UK as diverse as Craven Cottage and the Ricoh Arena.

And to finish, a quirk. In the 1990s we met Bruges and Helsingborgs in the Cup Winners’ Cup, and in 2017 Qarabag in the Champions League. They played at the Olympiastadion, Olympia Stadion and Olympic Stadium respectively, but none of those grounds have hosted Olympic sport before or since!

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