Photos: Soccer Fields Around the World

One of the most appealing aspects of soccer is its simplicity—a ball, some open space, goal markers, and you can play. As the 2018 World Cup kicks off in Russia, with matches held in massive modern arenas, here is a look at the beautiful game in action in some smaller and more unusual venues around the world, including pitches built on a glacier, on a beach, floating in a river, made of straw, on a rooftop, and more.

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  • Players of FC Gspon (white), representing Switzerland, play against FC Zuma (red), representing Spain, during their Mountain Villages international soccer tournament match in Gspon, in the Swiss Alps, on May 29, 2010. The match is played on the highest elevated soccer field in Europe. At about 2,000 meters, the pitch can only be reached by a cable car, which can only carry up to 10 people, or on foot—a 45-minute climb.

    Michael Buholzer / Reuters

    KV Svalbard’s crew, formed by Norwegian navy privates and scientists from the Norwegian Institute of Marine Research, play soccer as they are protected from polar bears by armed guards in the sea around Greenland, on March 22, 2018.

    Marius Vagenes Villanger / Kystvakten / Sjoforsvaret / NTB Scanpix / Norsk Telegrambyra AS / Reuters
  • The football stadium of Henninsvaer FC is photographed on March 8, 2018, in Henningsvaer, in Norway’s Lofoten islands.

    Olivier Morin / AFP / Getty
  • A man does pushups while guarding a goal post as he and others play soccer on a street during an anti-government protest in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, on Feburary 9, 2015.

    Andres Martinez Casares / Reuters
  • Children play soccer after the inauguration ceremony of a new pitch installed at Mineira favela in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, on September 10, 2014. 200 self-energy-supplied Pavegen panels, invented by British Laurence Kemball-Cook, were installed underground to capture kinetic energy created by the movement of the football players. The energy is stored and combined with solar panels’ energy to illuminate the pitch during the night.

    Yasuyoshi Chiba / AFP / Getty
  • Former FARC rebels play football in the unarmed zone known as Territorial Spaces for Training and Reincorporation Antonio Narino, where former guerrilla fighters receive training to facilitate their development, reconciliation, and reincorporation into civilian life, in Icononzo, Colombia, on June 12, 2018.

    Raul Arboleda / AFP / Getty
  • Players attend a football tournament among local amateur teams in a stadium made of straw named Zenit Arena, in the settlement of Krasnoye in the Stavropol region of Russia on July 22, 2017.

    Eduard Korniyenko / Reuters
  • Players compete during a local third-category football match between Atletico Diritti and Cetus Roma on May 8, 2016, at the Campo Gerini ground beside the Felice Acqueduct in Rome, Italy.

    Filippo Monteforte / AFP / Getty
  • Somali people play football in the smoky air, due to burning garbage at a destroyed and abandoned secondary school, in Mogadishu, Somalia, on June 7, 2018.

    Mohamed Abdiwahab / AFP / Getty
  • A futsal pitch, built on the rooftop of a department store next to the Shibuya crossing (bottom left), in Tokyo, Japan, photographed on December 20, 2017.

    Toru Yamanaka / AFP / Getty
  • Members of the Amazonian Tatuyo tribe play in their village in the Rio Negro near Manaus City, on June 23, 2014.

    Siphiwe Sibeko / Reuters

    Children play football on a floating pitch in Koh Panyee, in Thailand’s southern Phang Nga province, on October 1, 2014.

    Christophe Archambault / AFP / Getty
  • Local boys play street football on Windmill Walk in Southwark, London, England, on May 25, 2018.

    Henry Nicholls / Reuters
  • In this photo taken on June 3, 2017, a South Sudanese refugee boy holds a makeshift soccer ball as he plays with his friends in the Bidi Bidi refugee settlement in northern Uganda. Soccer fields and inter-village competitions are found across the world’s largest refugee settlement. Even more are being created, underscoring the importance of sport in a community trying to forget the horrors of war with a rare source of entertainment in an otherwise dreary existence.

    Ben Curtis / AP
  • Shipston Excelsior FC (black and white) play Burnwood Town FC at Brereton Town FC’s ground in front of the coal-fired Rugeley Power Station, near Rugeley, England, on April 2, 2016.

    Oli Scarff / AFP / Getty
  • A donkey stands on an empty soccer field near the village of Las Parcelas in Fuerteventura, Spain, on February 18, 2018.

    Alexandra Beier / Getty

    An aerial view of a football pitch located near an interchange in Shenyang, in China’s northeastern Liaoning province, photographed on June 11, 2018.

    AFP / Getty
  • Afghan boys play soccer in Kabul, Afghanistan, on January 14, 2015.

    Mohammad Ismail / Reuters
  • Schoolboys play football on a pitch on a rooftop of the San Giuseppe College on January 31, 2017, in Turin, Italy.

    Marco Bertorello / AFP / Getty
  • People play football at a field next to radomes of the digital communications listening station of the Bundesnachrichtendienst, the German intelligence agency, on June 2, 2015, in Bad Aibling, Germany.

    Sean Gallup / Getty
  • A picture taken on October 5, 2017, from the Mont de Gourze in Riez, western Switzerland, shows a football pitch illuminated with floodlights at sunset above the Lake Geneva.

    Fabrice Coffrini / AFP / Getty

    Football players try to fix a goal net in Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of the Congo, on April 11, 2015.

    Federico Scoppa / AFP / Getty
  • Boys play football on a pitch at Tavares Bastos favela, in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, on May 27, 2018.

    Carl De Souza / AFP / Getty
  • Chickens run to avoid a soccer game at an evacuee center in Lolovoli village on the island of Ambae, part of the Vanuatu Islands chain, near Saratamata, on December 11, 2005, after most of the residents of the village fled to a safe zone away from the hazard of an erupting volcano.

    Rick Rycroft / AP
  • Amateur soccer players from Switzerland play against Italy during the 2016 Mountain Villages European soccer tournament on the Allalin glacier in Saas-Fee, Switzerland, on March 12, 2016.

    Ruben Sprich / Action Images / Reuters
  • Contestants compete in the 8th mud soccer championship in Woellnau, near Leipzig, Germany, on August 6, 2016. Legend has it that a Finnish officer sent his soldiers to the bog for conditioning runs. To increase the fun factor, one day he kicked a ball onto the marsh and mud football was born. The championships have been held since 1998, and in 2000, a world championship with international teams was created.

    Jens Schlueter / Getty

    Boys play soccer on a driftwood soccer court on the banks of the Rio Negro in Catalao community near Manaus, Brazil, on April 4, 2015. Residents of Catalao, a village of houseboats, built a floating wooden soccer court after their village field was flooded by the swollen Rio Negro.

    Bruno Kelly / Reuters
  • A boy poses for pictures, holding a soccer ball on a floating driftwood soccer court, on the banks of the Rio Negro in Catalao, Brazil, on April 4, 2015.

    Bruno Kelly / Reuters
  • Young girl soccer players from Berlin schools play at the UEFA Champions Festival in front of the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin, Germany, on June 4, 2015.

    Fabrizio Bensch / Reuters
  • Myanmar youth play soccer on the banks of the Yangon River in Yangon on May 21, 2018.

    Ye Aung Thu / AFP / Getty
  • Bahraini youth play soccer on a village field as the sun sets in Malkiya, Bahrain, on November 12, 2015.

    Hasan Jamali / AP