If you are spending time in Lima you should definitely check out a live soccer match. Soccer is by far the most popular sport in Peru. Tickets are inexpensive and the atmosphere is second to none. Live fireworks, the beating of drums and brass instruments being played along with the crowd singing passionately will leave you with a memorable experience.
Most travel sites advise against going to games, citing safety. However in recent years the authorities have implemented a range of measures which have significantly decreased violence.
One important safety precaution I recommend is to follow the big crowds going in and out of the stadium. Don’t try to leave their route to take a side street and save time. There is little police presence on the side streets, and you could encounter gangs of thieves who pray on fans getting lost or straying from the pack.
Every attendee must present their national ID card before entering the stadium. It is prohibited to wear hats or hooded clothing. You will see families including young children and women at the games. If it is safe enough for them, it is safe enough for you
The more boisterous crowds are in the People’s Stands (“Tribuna Popular”) of the stadiums situated behind the goals, the entrance fee for this section is between 10 and 15 soles ($3 and $5). So you can minimize any risk by buying tickets for the middle- and upper-class Oriente and Occidente Stands, which of course come with a higher price tag of about 50 and 150 soles ($16 and $47) respectively. Oriente and Occidente seats have better views from the sides of the field. Occidente seats are the most expensive because they feature cushioned seating.
Alcohol consumption is not allowed inside the stadium so you can leave that bottle of whiskey at home. In fact you can also leave your Inca Kola bottle at home as attendees are prohibited to enter with any kind of bottle. You can buy soda or water inside. The food in the stadiums is pretty dire and I would recommend eating before you go as the most filling thing you will find is a sausage sandwich (choripan).
If traveling to games during the summer months (February to May) it is advisable to bring plenty of sunscreen and an extra t-shirt so that you can cover the back of your neck.
El Superclásico de Lima is the name given to the games when these two giants of Peruvian soccer meet. The clubs have met a total of 347 times with Alianza having overcome their bitter rivals 131 times to Universitario’s 115. The Superclásicos are highly charged events which usually result in players getting sent off as the intense rivalry between the clubs’ fans is also felt by the players on the field, resulting in a lot of bad blood and crunching tackles.
The two teams last met in June on neutral ground in Trujillo for a friendly that ended 2-2. A followup was supposed to be played in Arequipa but was suspended due to there not being sufficient police available.
Universitario de Deportes
Universitario are traditionally known as a team for the “pitucos” (rich kids), and Alianza are better known as “el equipo del pueblo” (the people’s team) for the working class. However both teams have huge fan bases spanning all social circles.
Universitario de Deportes are also known as “Los Cremas,” “Los Merengues” or “La U.” Their rivals call them “Las Gallinas” (The Hens), a nickname that goes back to 1931 when Universitario forfeited a Superclásico by refusing to play, thus chickening out. The following day a newspaper published a cartoon of a hen running away from a black rooster, and the name has stuck ever since.
Universitario play in the massive 80,000-seat Estadio Monumental known as “El Coloso” (The Colossus) in the district of Ate.
A taxi from Miraflores should cost no more than 20 soles ($6). Or you could take the Metropolitano bus to the Javier Prado station, and then a combi east along Javier Prado. But be sure the bus goes the full length of Avenida Javier Prado as the stadium is at the end.
You should pick up tickets before you go as the only tickets for sale at the stadium are from scalpers at double the price. I buy my tickets at Teleticket. You can purchase tickets online, but to get the actual ticket you have to bring a printout of the receipt to one of their agencies in every Wong or Metro supermarket chain. Since you have to go to an agency anyway, I usually just pay for the ticket there to avoid problems with the online payment. You need a valid ID when purchasing the ticket, and you will need to bring the same ID to gain entry to the stadium.
Alianza Lima go by the nicknames “Aliancistas,” “Los Blanquiazules,” “Los Íntimos” or “Grone.” That last name is slang for black or black-skinned, reversing the syllables of the word, “negro” as Alianza has a traditionally Afro-Peruvian, Indian and racially ethnic fanbase. Rivals call Aliancistas “Los Monos” (The Monkeys). Yes, it is as racist as it sounds unless used by Alianza fans themselves. For example Alianza fans who know me from my presence at every home game call me “el mono blanco” (the white monkey), which I find endearing.
Alianza play in the 35,000 capacity Alejandro Villanueva Stadium, simply known as “Matute” by the Alianza fateful due to it being located in the Matute neighborhood of Lima’s La Victoria district.
A taxi from Miraflores should cost no more than S/. 15 ($5), or you could take the Metropolitano bus to the National Stadium and walk eight blocks east along Hipolito Unanue. You can buy the tickets at any Tuticket agency located in every Maxi Ahorro supermarket chain. There is also a Tuticket agency on the third floor of Compupalace at Petit Thouars 5356 in Miraflores. Again you can buy the tickets online but I advise against this because you have to pick up the physical ticket anyway.
Sporting Cristal or “Cristal” for short are the third most successful team behind Universitario and Alianza. The club has won 17 national titles since they were founded in 1955 by the owners of the Backus and Johnston Brewery who named the club after their most successful beer brand Cristal.
Cristal play in the 18,000 capacity Alberto Gallardo Stadium in the Rímac district of Lima. The easiest way to get there is by taking the Metropolitano bus to Estación Caquetá. Step out of the bus station and you will see the stadium 300 yards away. You can purchase the tickets for Cristal at any teleticket agent or at the stadium box office, but on match day there can be long lines so it is best to arrive early.
Club Deportivo Universidad de San Martín de Porres
San Martín or “Los Santos” (The Saints) are relative newcomers to the professional league. Founded in 2004, they have been quite successful by winning three league titles. By comparison Alianza and Universitario each won two titles each during the same period. San Martín currently play in the Miguel Grau stadium which they rent from the regional government of Callao. None of the major transport systems pass the stadium so your best bet is to arrive by taxi, which shouldn’t cost more than 30 soles ($10) from Miraflores. You can buy the tickets directly from the stadium box before the game.
Club Centro Deportivo Municipal
Deportivo Municipal, or simply “Muni,” play in the 10,000 capacity Iván Elías Moreno Stadium in the Villa El Salvador district of Lima. You can get to the stadium by taking the Lima Metro south to the last stop, Villa El Salvador. Once you step off the train you will need to take a mototaxi the rest of the way to the stadium at a cost of 3 soles ($1). Alternatively you could take the Metropolitano bus south as far as the last stop, Matelini, and then take the feeder bus for Villa El Salvador to Revolución and 3 de Octubre. You can purchase tickets directly at the stadium.
The Peruvian League
The soccer season runs from February to December and consists of three major tournaments: The Copa Inca (Inca Cup), Torneo Apertura (Opening Tournament) and Torneo Clausura (Closing Tournament). The winners of each tournament along with the team with the most points duke it out in a playoff tournament in December. The team which wins the final is crowned national champion.
Find upcoming games in Lima on the Peruvian soccer league (ADFP) website.