A Non-Football Fan’s Guide to Watching Soccer in Mexico
Last week, I pulled a great girlfriend move and bought my Cruz Azul fan boyfriend tickets to watch them play in the Clásico Jóven against Club América (ódiales más). This marks the second time in my life I’ve attended a football game, as well as the second time I’ve been to one in Mexico, so I consider myself well qualified to give you a non-football fan’s guide to watching soccer in Mexico.
I lost my football match virginity way back in 2014, when I was living in Guadalajara. As far as I recall, I butted into my friends plans to watch the Atlas vs. Querétaro game because 1) I can’t bear to miss out on anything and 2) there were rumours that football legend Ronaldinho was going to be off the bench and on the pitch for that game (at the sign he was signed to Querétaro). Well, turns out we were right and our attendance at Estadio Jalisco paid off, because out he came and he even scored a goal. It really was the best of both worlds for that game, because our home team Atlas won but we still got to see a goal scored in real time by one of the legends of the sport. A great experience, as far as virginity losings go.
My second and most recent match was the aforementioned Clásico Jóven which saw down-on-their-luck Cruz Azul face off against their fellow Mexico City based team, and perhaps one of the most hated clubs in the country, Club América. While I wanted to take my boyfriend to the Cruz Azul home stadium, it turns out they were the visiting team for this match; however, that meant we got to go to the Estadio Azteca instead, which is where the national selection for Mexico play! Pretty cool, even for a non-football fan like me.
A NON-FOOTBALL FAN’S GUIDE TO WATCHING SOCCER IN MEXICO
Therefore, based on those two fleeting football experiences, I’m clearly an expert on the matter and here to give you some handy tips and tricks if you want to attend a football match in Mexico, starting with pre-game prep and finishing with post-match analysis (just kidding about that last one, I still don’t really like football that much).
Important note: If you were thinking of getting tickets to a soccer game in Monterrey, you can think again – arguably the most football fanatic city in the nation, pretty much every game sells out almost immediately.
The first and most obvious thing you need to know about attending a football match in Mexico is that you’ll probably want to buy tickets in advance. In Guadalajara, we just turned up on the day and paid (roughly, if my memory serves) MXN$150 each. However, it’s worth saying that this wasn’t a huge game, but rather just a pretty standard league one. Also, it was in the decently sized Estadio Jalisco, so it was unlikely it would sell out.
For the Mexico City game on the other hand, I was massively freaking out that there wouldn’t be tickets available as it’s such a big event when Cruz Azul play América and I really didn’t want to cancel my surprise-the-boyfriend plans. Then someone reminded me that it takes place in the gargantuan Estadio Azteca and that there would definitely be tickets, so stop worrying Lauren.
Either way, I still bought them through Ticketmaster (after eagerly logging on at 11am the day they were released to the general public), opting to pick them up at Liverpool the following day at a cost of MXN$240, not including Ticketmaster’s outrageous fees of MXN$53 per ticket. This was the cheapest ticket available for that particular game by the way, and we still had a great view of the pitch and lucked out by being surrounded mostly by fellow Cruz Azul fans. If you want a full list of where you can collect football tickets bought through Ticketmaster, click here. You can also buy direct at the stadium both on game day or in advance, but it’s worth checking the policy of the stadium you want to visit.
- Don’t freak out about ticket availability, especially if the match is taking place in a huge stadium.
- But do sign up for Ticketmaster alerts if you’re worried.
- You’re looking at paying between MXN$100 and MXN$500 (at a guesstimate) for tickets, but it really depends on the team you want to see and the seats you want to sit in.
- There are multiple locations at which to collect your tickets.
At both stadiums I’ve been to, the public transport links are excellent. You can literally step right off the bus or light rail and you’re outside the gates. However, you should make sure to leave in good time so you don’t miss the start of the game.
If you plan on attending a game at Estadio Jalisco, you can simply hop on the Macrobús line 1 (in the direction of Mirador), which will cost you MXN$7, and get off at the stop called Monumental. Or just do as we did and follow everyone wearing an Atlas shirt.
As for Estadio Azteca, I live approximately 20 minutes away by car and we left 50 minutes in advance of the start time (in Uber). There was a ton of traffic and we arrived with just enough time to get through the security, gates and have a quick bathroom break. In hindsight, perfectly timed. On the day, panic inducing. If you prefer public transport, take the blue line of the metro all the way down to Tasqueña (the last stop) and from there, head towards the Tren Ligero (Light Rail). Get on and stay on until the stop called, handily, Estadio Azteca. From there, you’re right across the road from the stadium. For the metro and tren ligero, you’ll need a rechargeable travel card and the journey will cost you MXN$5 (metro) + MXN$3 (tren ligero).
- Know your route in advance and leave earlier than you think is necessary.
- Use private transport (Uber) if you’re worried about getting lost.
- This is a decent resource for bus route planning in Guadalajara, although it looks confusing at first.
- This is just an all-round great route planning website, wherever you are.
- If in doubt, follow other fans.
When you arrive, both stadiums are surrounded by plenty of food stalls and you can pick up a counterfeit shirt if you want to really look the part too, or a mascot. They’re both usually priced at around MXN$100 which is less than £5.
Alternatively, you can head straight to the gates where your ticket will be scanned and then you’ll be patted down by security guards. It’s worth noting that there are some items you can’t enter with, aside from the obvious things like lighters, alcohol and aerosols. At Estadio Jalisco, a friend had his (empty) water bottle confiscated and at Estadio Azteca they’re notorious for not letting you in with a belt.
- Don’t wear a belt or take aerosols, lighters, alcohol or water bottles.
In The Stands
If you’re not sure where your seat is, don’t worry as there are loads of ushers to show you where to sit – just make sure to give them a few pesos as a tip for doing so. You’ll also want to keep a decent handful of change with you to give to the bathroom attendants in exchange for toilet paper (unless you carry your own private stash with you at all times).
In Estadio Jalisco, beer vendors were passing all the time and we really didn’t find it hard to buy a drink during the game; however, in Estadio Azteca they didn’t pass once. In fact, we were lucky we bought our first drinks right before the start of the game because that saw us through to half time, when we followed the trail of people holding cups in order to find the vendor. Turns out he was hunched down serving drinks with a gathering crowd around him. Long story short, get your beer fast if you want one.
If you’re more interested in food than drinks, there was a quite frankly ridiculous array of options up for grabs in the Estadio Azteca, all sold by vendors who wandered round the stands. There was popcorn, nuts, crisps, hamburgers, Dominos pizza and even pots of Maruchan soup accompanied by the obligatory half a lime. Honestly. I can’t remember what was been sold at the Atlas game in Guadalajara (I’m sorry, it was three years ago!), but I’d hazard a guess that it was roughly the same.
- Take change for the ushers and toilet attendants.
- Buy your beer ASAP.
- Don’t worry if you get hungry – there are plenty of snacks on sale.
It’s worth mentioning that you’ll hear some interesting language while you’re at the game and if you’re familiar at all with Spanish it could be considered a bit dicey. For example, Mexican football fans have a penchant for shouting ‘puuuuuto’ before an opposing player kicks the ball, which has brought them under criticism in recent times because it most closely translates to ‘fag’.
All that whistling you hear? Yeah, that’s to the rhythm of the Mexican phrase ‘chingue a su madre’, which literally means ‘go fuck your mother’ or, more accurately, ‘go fuck yourself’.
Aside from the language, there were a bizarre amount of paper planes being thrown about. I can’t explain it but at least three of them hit me on the head during the game, but at least it provided some light relief from watching Cruz Azul’s conejitos get devoured by América’s águilas.
- Prepare for some questionable language.
- Try not to get hit by paper aeroplanes.
If you’re still feeling peckish, the food vendors are all still in full force after the game and you can pick up something to tide you over. We just went to Coyoacán for tacos instead, but each to their own. It’s worth mentioning that there are a ton of taxis waiting outside for the departing fans but the prices they charge are extortionate (they tried to charge MXN$350 to go from Estadio Azteca to Coyoacán, which normally costs less than MXN$100).
Therefore, I recommend taking either public transport (following the same route you took to arrive), or ordering an Uber. The only caveat about ordering an Uber is that the traffic is horrendous. To avoid this we actually walked about ten minutes up the road to the nearest avenue that came from a different direction and was therefore far less busy, but I’d only recommend doing this if you’re in a group, rather than alone.
- Walk a bit further from the stadium if you want to order Uber.
- Use public transport.
- Don’t take the overpriced taxis.
- Book tickets in advance if you’re a nervy weirdo like me
- Set off early to get there before the game starts
- Don’t wear a belt or take a water bottle, amongst other items
- Buy your beers ASAP as the vendors might not pass by for a while
- Carry change for tipping where necessary
- Don’t take offense at the strong language
- Try not to get hit on the head by a paper plane
- Make sure you know how to get home afterwards
- Enjoy the atmosphere, even if you don’t love the game!