Prague is to Czech football what London is to English football: nearly 10 teams in the top 2 Leagues, many derbies, and therefore many stadiums all across the city. Unfortunately, Czech football belongs more to Belgium when it comes to international scene. Even if these days Slavia or Sparta are bringing Czech football on a global scale, some historical team such as the Bohemians or Dukla build up the history of the nation.
Strahov Stadium, the huge stadium of the eponym neighbourhood had initially nearly nothing to do with football. Originally built in wood in 1926, then consolidated and enlarged in a pure communist style in 1948, this iconic stadium of Czechoslovakia’s history has been mainly used to host the Strahov Stadium, the huge stadium of the eponym neighbourhood has initially nearly nothing to do with football. Originally built in wood in 1926, then consolidated and enlarged in a pure communist style in 1948, this iconic stadium of Czechoslovakia’s history has been mainly used to host the Spartakiads. Spartakiads were mass gymnastic events sponsored by Soviet Union, to celebrate the mighty USSR. Every 5 years from 1955 to 1985, Strahov Stadium hosted this gigantic communist mass, gathering hundreds of thousands of gymnasts and millions of spectators. Lemons and Hungarian salamis usually scarce in Prague, were in abundance during these periods; it seems that it was also meaning plenty of extramarital affairs, and five years spikes in the birth rate corresponding to the Spartakiads are observable…
The 1990 edition being cancelled for quite obvious reasons, the Rolling Stones came instead to deliver a pretty unique show to 110 000 Czech people, freshly freed from Soviet occupation. After that, many concerts have been held in this colossal stadium that could receive in its greatest times 280 000 spectators, including 96 000 seating. In 2002, after about 10 million of euros invested, Strahov Stadium became the residence of the AC Sparta Praha’s training centre, reuniting 8 football pitches in his enclosure. However, the abandoned bleachers still testify of a quite recent time when Soviet Union were occupying these lands. The speakers omnipresence all around the stadium as well as the quote “Capitalism favour individual benefit over general profit, which is incompatible with a democracy” on the stadium’s façade are here to remind us the propaganda tool Strahov Stadium was.
Photography and writing by Vincent Roturier, exclusive reporter in the country of Karel Poborsky.