When you head to a stadium to watch the match, you are likely focused on the game ahead. Perhaps you are thinking about finding your seat and figuring out where the most convenient refreshment stand is. However, you are likely not thinking about what would happen if a natural disaster were to strike. The good news is that soccer stadiums are designed to withstand a lot of punishment.

1) Reinforced Concrete

While not all stadiums are built the same way or to the same standard, you can be confident that nearly all of them include steel-reinforced concrete. This construction method greatly strengthens concrete by taking advantage of the ductile strength of steel in the form of reinforcement bars (rebar). This construction helps engineers to design large stadiums. It also provides the structures with significant resistance against forces such as high winds, earthquakes, flooding and more. Even if the concrete is damaged, the steel will help to hold everything in place. However, it is much cheaper and more practical than a full-steel structure.

2) Lightning Protection

Lightning is one of the most common threats to stadiums. They are usually fairly high and exposed. For example, Emirates Stadium, despite being in London, is surrounded by roads and open, paved areas. Therefore, stadiums need to have efficient lightning rod systems that will safely redirect any strikes. Additionally, it is important to have surge protection devices to defend all the electronics. There are screens, lights and other electronics all over stadiums. So, a surge could potentially shut down the event and even become dangerous.

3) Load-Path Continuity

High winds are a leading cause of damage to large buildings. Many stadiums have partially open roofs which can potentially be torn off by excessive winds. This is typically defended against through a combination of materials and load-path continuity. By extending the load-bearing designs from the roof all the way down to the foundation, engineers can minimize the chance of the roof being removed or damaged. Strong wind resistance helps to keep the spectators safe.

4) Wind Deflecting Designs

Similarly, the shape of stadiums can play a huge role in their defense against high winds. For example, the exterior of Santiago Bernabéu Stadium in Madrid has many curved surfaces. This isn’t just for aesthetics. Those shapes help to direct the wind in a safe manner. It is a similar story for Bayern Munich’s stadium, Allianz Arena. The unusual exterior design is intended to be eye-catching. However, it also serves to minimize the surfaces that wind can push on efficiently.

5) Self-Healing Concrete

Self-healing concrete is a relatively new technology, so it is not included in many stadiums. However, it promises to help make them safer, especially as it is adopted more widely.

This unique type of concrete is reinforced by living bacteria. This biomaterial lets the concrete continuously heal itself. Cracks are almost unavoidable in traditional concrete even in perfect conditions. Engineers plan stadiums to withstand a significant amount of cracking. However, even the best plans may not be sufficient if disaster strikes. Self-healing concrete can mitigate the risk of damage.

6) Water Management

Perhaps the most common risk for damage to a stadium is flooding. This can be caused by heavy rain (especially for EPL teams) or rising water from nearby waterways such as Craven Cottage, which is built right on the River Thames. Stadiums need to be designed to redirect water away from the pitch, fans and structural elements. This can be achieved with roofs, drains and careful thought for how water can be drained away from the stadium.

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The stadiums of FIFA teams represent significant investments for the organizations behind the most-watched sport in the world. Therefore, they need to be ready for the elements. Not only are they significant capital assets, but the stadiums also need to protect the fans, players and workers. The above strategies and technologies help them to do this.