food / travel

Inside Volcanoes, In Front Of Trains: 10 Stunning Soccer Fields Around The World

Inside Volcanoes, In Front Of Trains: 10 Stunning Soccer Fields Around The World

Henningsvær Stadion in Norway

On September 19, the Cumbre Vieja, a volcano on the Spanish island of La Palma, erupted. Since then, it's been a daily spectacle of plumes of black smoke and lava spewing in the air and destroying everything on its path down to the Atlantic shore, with some 6,000 locals forced to evacuate

With this autumn's dramatic images, all of Spain has been volcano-obsessed, and Madrid-based daily La Rázon pointed out to its readers last week that inside a (non-active!) volcano in Mexico, there is ... would you believe ... the El 'Teoca' soccer pitch.

We've explored, and found examples of places around the world where the love of soccer has prompted locals to carve a field into whatever natural surroundings were there first — defying the elements and offering breathtaking views.

We've found 10 from Iceland to Japan to Brazil, and beyond. Take the tour below:

El ‘Teoca’, Santa Cecilia Tepetlapa, Mexico

photo of El 'Teoca', the field of the gods in Mexico, source: Google Earth

El 'Teoca', the field of the gods in Mexico

source: Google Earth

Teoca means 'place where the gods live,' and it is found right in the middle of an extinct volcano crater. You don't have to be a pro to play with the gods on this pitch located in the southern borough of Mexico City of Xochimilco, as both amateurs and professionals train and play on this field, rising 2,435 meters above sea level.

Hásteinsvöllur, Vestmannaeyjar, Iceland

photo of H\u00e1steinsv\u00f6llur Stadium in Iceland

Hásteinsvöllur Stadium in Iceland

wikipedia.org

The floor is lava! Well, was, actually. This football pitch, located in the only human settlement in the Westman Islands archipelago, was built on a soil once covered in lava from the eruption of the Eldfell volcano in 1973. The volcano is actually still active and less than a mile away from the field. This doesn't stop the ÍBV club (Íþróttabandalag Vestmannaeyja) from holding their matches here.

Henningsvær Stadion, Norway

photo of Henningsv\u00e6r Stadion in Norway on an island

Henningsvær Stadion in Norway

Unsplash/Error 420

Despite being a small fishing village of 500 inhabitants, located in the Lofoten archipelago, Henningsvær has one of the most famously beautiful football pitches in the world. Offering a spectacular backdrop of sea and fjords, it has no stands but rocks.

Shell Football Pitch, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Player-powered Shell Football Pitch in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil -

PaveGen/Gen

Football can be a dirty game when it comes to energy consumption. This field instead is tapping into the players' very own kinetic energy thanks to PaveGen energy-capturing tiles placed under the artificial turf. They thus provide electricity to the spotlights around the pitch.

Jánošovka Stadium, Slovakia

PHoto of A train going through the J\u00e1no\u0161ovka Stadium in Slovakia

A train going through the Jánošovka Stadium in Slovakia

Youtube/vlareha

Forget about your Vuvuzela! To cheer the players of TJ Tatran Čierny Balog, the local amateur club, trains will provide the right amount of whistles and steam as they pass slowly between the field and the supporters.

Adidas Futsal Park, Tokyo, Japan

Aerial view of Adidas Futsal Park in Tokyo

Adidas Futsal Park in Tokyo

Flickr/Trey Ratcliff

If soccer players want to be at the top of their game, they can try being on the top of a building. Located in the heart of Tokyo's busy district Shibuya, on the rooftop of the Tokyu Department Store, this outdoor futsal park is open day and night, for school children to professional players and offers a great panoramic view. One might argue futsal court is not a football pitch. Yet, this one was built as an introduction to the 2002 FIFA World Cup, hosted by both Japan and South Korea.

Meshchersky Park Pitch, Russia

Photo from above of Meshchersky Park Pitch near Moscow in Russia

Meshchersky Park Pitch near Moscow

Unsplash/Philipp Trubchenko

If you're looking for some peace and quiet with your soccer, this is your place. Located 20 minutes outside the bustle of Moscow, right in the middle of the Meshchersky forest park, playing or watching a game can be followed by time on hiking trails and ski tracks. The pitch is open 24/7.

The Float at Marina Bay, Singapore

Photo from above of the Float at Marina Bay in Singapore -

The Float at Marina Bay in Singapore -

Flickr/David Jones

Like the Eiffel Tower, this football pitch is a good example of a temporary construction that was so popular it became permanent. This impressive floating platform is fixed to the seabed by six pylons while the stands sit separately on the shore.

It was designed in 2007 for the Singapore National Team to play while the National Stadium was being built. However, it never held a single match from the team but it has been used for concerts, ceremonies, community events and even otters gathering during COVID.

Yucai High School football pitch, Beijing, China

When Yucai High School was planning to building the soccer pitch, officials asked permission from the city to relocate the 100-year-old tree. No luck. Because of the tree's age, a removal would have been too risky for what is considered a national treasure. The field, instead, was built around it and now it has become the symbol of the institution.

A similar configuration can be found in the Romanian village of Tonciu, reports the Irish Mirror. And in Estonia, in the parish of Orissaare, the 150-year-old oak was even named 2015 European Tree of the Year.

Á Mølini Stadium, Eiði, Faroe Islands

Photo of Ei\u00f0i Stadium in the Faroe Islands

Eiði Stadium in the Faroe Islands

Unsplash/Ferdinand Stöhr

There is a chance that as many footballs ended up in this pitch's goals as they did in the sea. Located between the Norwegian Sea and Lake Niðara Vatn, it is subject to very strong and unpredictable winds that make it difficult to control the ball trajectory.

Nevertheless, it hosted matches of the Faroe Islands national team until recently, despite having very little space for fans to sit, or stand.

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Society

Debt Trap: Why South Korean Economics Explains Squid Game

Crunching the numbers of South Korea's personal and household debt offers a glimpse into what drives the win-or-die plot of the Netflix hit produced in the Asian country.

In the Netflix series, losers of the game face death

Yip Wing Sum

-Analysis-

SEOUL — The South Korean series Squid Game has become the most viewed series on Netflix, watched by over 111 million viewers and counting. It has also generated a wave of debate online and off about its provocative message about contemporary life.

The plot follows the story of a desperate man in debt, who receives a mysterious invitation to play a game in which the contestants gamble their lives on six childhood games, with the winner awarded a prize of 45.6 billion won ($38 million)... while the losers face death.


It's a plot that many have noted is not quite as surreal as it sounds, a reflection of the reality of Korean society today mired in personal debt.

Seoul housing prices top London and New York

In the polished streets of downtown Seoul, one sees endless cards and coupons advertising loans scattered on the ground. Since the outbreak of the pandemic, as the demand for loans in South Korea has exploded, lax lending policies have led to a rapid increase in personal debt.

According to the South Korean Central Bank's "Monetary Credit Policy Report," household debt reached 105% of GDP in the first quarter of this year, equivalent to approximately $1.5 trillion at the end of March, with a major share tied up in home mortgages.

Average home loans are equivalent to 270% of annual income.

One reason behind the debts is the soaring housing prices. In Seoul, home to nearly half of the country's population, housing prices are now among the highest in the world. The price to income ratio (PIR), which weighs the average price of a home to the average annual household income, is 12.04 in Seoul, compared to 8.4 in San Francisco, 8.2 in London and 5.4 in New York.

According to the Korea Real Estate Commission, 42.1% of all home purchases in January 2021 were by young Koreans in their 20s and 30s. For those in their 30s, the average amount borrowed is equivalent to 270% of their annual income.

Playing the stock market

At the same time, the South Korean stock market is booming. The increased demand to buy stocks has led to an increase in other loans such as credit. The ratio for Korean shareholders conducting credit financing, i.e. borrowing from securities companies to secure stock holdings, had reached 21.4 trillion won ($17.7 billion), further increasing the indebtedness of households.

A 30-year-old Seoul office worker who bought stocks through various forms of borrowing was interviewed by Reuters this year, and said he was "very foolish not to take advantage of the rebound."

In addition to his 100 million won ($84,000) overdraft account, he also took out a 100 million won loan against his house in Seoul, and a 50 million won stock pledge. All of these demands on the stock market have further exacerbated the problem of household debt.

42.1% of all home purchases in January 2021 were by young Koreans in their 20s and 30s

Simon Shin/SOPA Images/ZUMA

Game of survival

In response to the accumulating financial risks, the Bank of Korea has restricted the release of loans and has announced its first interest rate hike in three years at the end of August.

But experts believe that even if banks cut loans or raise interest rates, those who need money will look for other ways to borrow, often turning to more costly institutions and mechanisms.

This all risks leading to what one can call a "debt trap," one loan piling on top of another. That brings us back to the plot of Squid Game, "Either you live or I do." South Korean society has turned into a game of survival.

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