Design & Development

Juba National Stadium reopens in South Sudan

Featured image credit: South Sudan Football Association

South Sudan, the world’s youngest country, has received a revamped national stadium following the completion of a project aided by funding from FIFA.

The new-look Juba National Stadium was opened earlier this week at an event attended by the likes of South Sudan President, Salva Kiir Mayardit, and FIFA president, Gianni Infantino.

First opened in 1962 and located in the capital of South Sudan, Juba, GS Construction has been working on the stadium project for the past five years. The stadium has been renovated thanks to funds from world football’s governing body.

The FIFA Forward Development Programme, which has been supporting member associations’ (MA) infrastructure projects since its establishment in 2016, provided $5.1m (£4.02m/€4.77m) for the project, while a $1.8m COVID-19 relief loan completed the necessary funding. It facilitated the construction of four dressing rooms, team benches, a media tribune, VIP areas and other facilities, turning the stadium into a 7,000-capacity venue.

FIFA paid out COVID-19 relief loans as MAs struggled with the economic impact of the pandemic. The South Sudan Football Association (SSFA) will reimburse its loan through part of the maximum $8m package it is eligible to receive over the next four-year cycle of the FIFA Forward programme.

However, FIFA said the seven-fold increase in funding since 2016 will mean the SSFA can still complete plans to bring the stadium fully up to Confederation of African Football (CAF) and FIFA standards with the installation of floodlights and a giant screen. It also means a project to construct a new Technical Centre that matches FIFA specifications in Nesitu, located east of Juba, can proceed.

Infantino said, according to FIFA.com: “It is a milestone in the very young history of South Sudan, of the youngest country in the world.

“This is a great occasion. It is a great opportunity to showcase South Sudan, to showcase the youth of this country, which has so much talent, and it’s our joint responsibility to give this talent an opportunity.

“Now, this talent, when it comes to football, has the opportunity to play in a brand-new national stadium, (to) which FIFA has been contributing, but it has been a teamwork of all of us to build. And today, we have a beautiful jewel here in South Sudan.”

South Sudan gained independence from neighbouring Sudan in 2011. Juba National Stadium was inaugurated on Tuesday as the two nations met in a qualifying game for the 2026 World Cup.

Sudan emerged the 3-0 victor, but it has emerged it will also use Juba National Stadium as its ‘home’ ground. The ongoing war in the country between government forces and the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces (RSF) has meant sporting activity has ceased in Sudan.

Head of the Sudanese national team mission and advisor to the Sudanese Football Association, Mohammed Ahmed Sir Al-Khatim, told Radio Tamazuj that all national team matches, as well as those of clubs Al Hilal and Al Merreikh, will be transferred to South Sudan and played at Juba National Stadium.

He said: “Juba is our second city. Juba hosted the Sudanese peace negotiations between the Sudanese transitional government and the armed struggle movements.”