Ottmar Hitzfeld Arena

The Ottmar Hitzfeld Arena is a sports stadium in the village Gspon in Canton Valais, Switzerland. It is the highest stadium in Europe at 2,000 m (6,600 ft) above sea level. It is the home of amateur football club FC Gspon and is named after football manager Ottmar Hitzfeld.[1]

Ottmar Hitzfeld Arena
Ottmar Hitzfeld Arena with Mountain View.jpg
Ottmar Hitzfeld field, Gspon
AddressGspon, 3933
Coordinates46°13′39″N 07°54′08″E / 46.22750°N 7.90222°E / 46.22750; 7.90222Coordinates: 46°13′39″N 07°54′08″E / 46.22750°N 7.90222°E / 46.22750; 7.90222
Elevation2,000 m (6,600 ft) above sea level


The stadium is located in the hamlet Gspon, which is 800 meters above the Staldenried municipality in Canton Valais.[2] Gspon has only five inhabitants, but Staldenried has more than 500.[3] Gspon has no cars nor traffic,[4] and was chosen as the site location because lower lands are used for agriculture.[2] The stadium is known for being the highest football pitch in Europe, 2008 meters above sea level.[5]


Football was initially played here on gravel,[6] and later there was a surface of wood chips and sand.[6][2] The pitch has a safety net on three sides to prevent footballs being kicked into the valley,[4] although it is claimed that a thousand footballs have been lost.[3] Up to two-hundred spectators attend the home games[2] and there is no entrance fee.[3] The pitch is smaller than the average football pitch and only eight instead of eleven players take part in the game which has no offside rule.[4]

In 2009 a field of artificial turf was paid for by the former football trainer of the Swiss National Team Ottmar Hitzfeld, hence its name.[3] The teams and spectators travel to the matches by cable car.[7] The original cable car from Staldenried held twelve people.[5] In 2019, a new cable car with cabins that held 25 passengers was installed.[8]

Because of the elevated altitude the air is thinner and some think that gives the home team an advantage.[9] The pitch, which is as large as the available flat surface permits, is smaller than traditional pitches.[1] In winter, the pitch is covered by snow and part of a ski piste.[4][10]


The FC Gspon was established in 1974.[4] Until 1986 the football club was active in the amateur football in Valais.[11] In 1984, with the support of FC Gspon, the Mountain Village championship was established in Switzerland.[2] According to the club legend, the pitch's location close to a cliff made it lose around a thousand footballs.[3] Timo Konietzka, who scored the first goal of the German Association Football in 1963, had some sympathy and he supplied more footballs in 1990.[3]

The stadium was the host of the European Football Championship of Mountain Villages, first held in 2008[12] which was organized in collaboration with the European Football Championship in Austria and Switzerland.[2][13] The Championship in Gspon was won by Spain who beat Sweden in the final. Switzerland was third after defeating France.[5]

Since 2008 FC Gspon has a men's and a women's team who play on the arena.[4]


Reader's Digest put Hitzfeld Stadium at number one on their list of weirdest stadiums,[7] while Bleacher Report put the stadium on their list of 20 sports stadiums with the most beautiful views.[14]


  1. ^ a b Henry, Matthew (13 October 2019). "Playing at Europe's 'highest' pitch". BBC Sport. Retrieved 2022-05-04.
  2. ^ a b c d e f Wiedemann, Roland (27 March 2008). "Das Dach der Fußballwelt - Bergdorf-Europameisterschaft in Gspon". 11FREUNDE (in German). Retrieved 2022-05-07.
  3. ^ a b c d e f Richter, Michael. ""Hymnen in der Höhe": In der Schweizer Bergwelt soll die EM 2020 steigen". Kicker (in German). Retrieved 2022-05-04.
  4. ^ a b c d e f Dahl, Kieran (16 February 2022). "Spiel in den Schweizer Alpen Fußball auf höchstem Niveau". Nike (in German). Retrieved 2022-05-05.
  5. ^ a b c "Du foot de «très haut niveau» pour montagnards avertis". Swissinfo (in French). 2008. Retrieved 2022-05-04.
  6. ^ a b "König Fussball als alpine Europameisterschaft". issuu. Retrieved 2022-05-06.
  7. ^ a b Walker, Anna (2022). "The world's 10 weirdest stadiums". Reader's Digest. Retrieved 5 May 2022.
  8. ^ Montana, C. (19 February 2019). "Neue "Lebensader" für Stalden-Staldenried-Gspon". Internationale Seilbahn Rundschau (in German). Retrieved 2022-05-07.
  9. ^ Hart, Jeremy. "The Beautiful Game Has a Beautiful View at Europe's Highest Pitch". Wired. ISSN 1059-1028. Retrieved 2022-05-04.
  10. ^ "L'Euro des villages de montagne aura bien lieu!". Le Matin (in French). 2020-05-17. ISSN 1018-3736. Retrieved 2022-05-11.
  11. ^ "FC Gspon". Retrieved 2022-05-05.
  12. ^ dzytig. "Broadcast zur Bergdorf-EM 2020 startet mit erster Sendung | DZYTIG.CH" (in Swiss High German). Retrieved 2022-05-04.
  13. ^ "IDEE UND KONZEPT - Bergdorf-EM: Zermatt im Wallis - Das verrückteste Fussballturnier der Alpen". (in Swiss High German). 2019-05-08. Retrieved 2022-05-09.
  14. ^ Depta, Laura (17 June 2016). "20 Sports Stadiums with the Most Beautiful Views". Bleacher Report. Retrieved 5 May 2022.