At home you know how to buy football tickets, get good seats and find your way to a game. There’s TicketMaster, the internet and it’s easy peasy. But if you want to score a good time going to an Argentinean futbol (soccer) match, where you don’t know local nuances and you’re not a Spanish speaker, read on because what you need to know can be trickier than you might expect.
You can buy tickets at some stadiums on the day of a game, but not always. Some stadiums are for club members-only, like Boca Juniors, or sell members-only tickets like at River Plate. Club regulations are arbitrary, game dates can change, it can be confusing to know where at a stadium to buy tickets and if they’ll be available when you get there. For big games tickets are often sold out to club members or only sold in advance, so it’s important to work out how to buy a ticket, the best way to go, whether on your own or with a group.
If you prefer to skip all the research, leg work and logistics that are uniquely Argentinian, we offer soccer game packages with food/drinks, bilingual guides and transportation which can be reserved in advance.
If you want to take a chance and go-it alone, this article has tips on what you need to know about going to a live match.
Football tickets, getting there & getting in
Buying tickets in advance
Clubs will announce their advance ticket sales on their respective websites the week of the game. All matches are grouped by week and exact match dates/kick off times are not confirmed by the AFA until the week of the match, usually on Monday night. Tickets may be sold at the stadium or at the club’s main office. City buses run to neighborhoods where the offices and stadiums are, but steer clear of the short walk it can take to get from bus stops to stadiums, especially when shanty-towns are nearby like at San Lorenzo. Taxis are fairly inexpensive and should be considered for stadium ticket purchases only on days when there’s no game on.
For a big match, people line up early for tickets. If you’re patient enough to join the die-hards in line, know that there will be a queue several blocks long and tickets will sell out. Triple check the info for ticket sales on the club’s official website, Futbol website Ole or newspapers as times/dates/locations may change. Clubs like River Plate will give strict priority to club members and Boca Juniors do not even offer public sales anymore. If you’re not sure or misinformed beforehand, you could end up going on the wrong day, or standing in the wrong line (members only line).
|River Plate||Members priority sales,http://www.cariverplate.com.ar/||Website sales|
|Boca Juniors||Members only (season ticket holders only)||N/A|
|San Lorenzo||None,http://www.sanlorenzo.com.ar/||Av. de Mayo 1373|
|Racing Club||None,http://www.racingclub.com.ar/||Av. Mitre 934|
|Argentinos Juniors||Stadium on game day probable, https://www.argentinosjuniors.com.ar/||Punta Arenas 1271|
|All Boys||Stadium on game day probable, http://www.caallboys.com.ar/||Mercedes 1951|
|Lanus||None,http://www.clublanus.com/||Av. 9 de Julio 1680|
|Quilmes||None,http://www.quilmesaclub.org.ar/||Guido y Paz|
|Velez Sarsfield||Stadium on game day probable, http://www.velezsarsfield.com.ar/||Av. Juan B. Justo 9200|
Another option on the day of a game is to buy a ticket from a scalper outside the stadium before a match or from an unauthorized online vendor like MercadoLibre. Bogus tickets are not an uncommon scam in Argentina. Prices from scalpers at nearby parks or streets shouting, ‘¡Entradas!’ are inflated and you should expect a gringo tax. If you risk it and buy from a scalper, check the tickets and talk to a few to compare prices and gauge what the tickets should look like. You will be assured emphatically that the ticket is legit, but be wary if a scalper won’t offer to escort you to the gate.
Scalping at River Plate: If it’s a ticket for a River Plate game make sure it does not read, “Solo Socios.” River Plate sells tickets to members only first before moving on tho the masses and many of their tickets require a River Plate membership ID card for entry. Whether or not security checks for a River ID varies throughout the season and may or may not be announced, so it’s best to avoid these types of tickets.
Scalping at Boca Juniors: There is a 7-year waiting list to become a member, so getting entry to these games is tricky. Being a members-only stadium, the Boca Juniors club uses plastic ID cards that are reused for entry to all games. Someone will have to escort you to the turnstiles, scan the card and hope security does not give either of you any trouble. Even if you score a card, it will not work if monthly dues are not up to date.
On occasion Boca Juniors have paper tickets for international tournaments and in rare scenarios regular season games. We have seen these surface for regular season games only a handful of times in the past few years.
Scalping in general: Clubs are slowly transitioning from paper tickets with magnetic strips to one time use plastic cards. Both are counterfeited though so if the deal seems to good to be true then it probably is. Most tickets have a value printed on them to help you gauge what you should be paying. Ticket values are also publicized on the club’s pages with the exception of Boca Juniors.
The bottom line is; buy from a scalper only if you’re willing to chance a loss. To see a Boca game, you will be better off biting the bullet and paying more to ensure entrance with a well-connected company.
At the stadium on game day
On game days buses, trains and subways that go near the stadiums will be packed with fans, chanting, banging on side panels and stomping all the way to the stadium. Once you get there, entry is a bit hectic with police controlling the throngs with multiple security checkpoints. Lighters and anything deemed “throwable” will be confiscated. We have seen perfume, sun tan lotion, make-up, e-cigarettes and other random objects seized. Women will be separated from men and searched by female police officers. Purses and backpacks are allowed, but will be inspected thoroughly.
Tickets for the standing “La Popular” section (a.k.a. General Local), often times where the elites are found. “Officially” this section costs $120 AR pesos (set pricing by AFA, 2015) if purchased at the box office. The best sections can run as much as 1,000 AR pesos (Sept 2015) for the middle-deck, sideline section when purchased through official and direct channels. The most popular and inexpensive sections are “La Popular” sections and are for fans who stand the entire match. We recommend avoiding these sections that aren’t always safe for travelers. Fans in the rowdy “Barra Brava” section chant, jump up and down, set off flares and the energy is high throughout the entire match, even if they’re losing. During a big rivalry match, the passion and intensity is amped up ten fold! If you’re bold enough to watch from this section be prepared to get wet, smoked out and surrounded by Argentino mayhem. Also note that if they notice you not helping amp up the ambiance they may kick you out or worse.
The best place to watch a game is on the sideline, middle deck if you have the money and opportunity. The upper-deck, sideline general seating section is best for those that like to watch the flow of the game overall. Lower deck, sideline numbered seats are more expensive than upper, less than middle and, while closer, they lack a degree of elevation so opposite side of the pitch action can be tough to make out. But in this section you will get great views of up-close action and players’ tactics. Behind the goal sections are the most inexpensive and great for one half of the game when the home team is attacking in front of you.
Stadium Booze and Food
If you like something for the liver, note that alcohol is not sold at any of the stadiums or technically within 500 meters. If you’re feeling cheeky though, you might manage to buy a strong Fernet and Coke, by asking the Coke salesman in the stands for a “Fernando”. What you can count on at the stadiums is mediocre, expensive food, so it’s always a good idea to eat and drink before going. Outside the stadium there will be a ton of independent stands selling drinks, sausage sandwiches (choripan) and hamburguesas. Beer is a given, but the closer you get to the stadium the lesser the odds.
What Colors To Wear And Not Wear
Colors count. At a minimum, you’ll appreciate wearing the right team colors, or at least avoid wearing rival team colors. If you’re into doing it right you can get jerseys and futbol merchandise on Florida and Lavalle pedestrian streets in downtown Buenos Aires. There will be official jerseys (certificate and official box), unofficial jerseys (same as official, but without the certificate/box) and full-on knock offs. For old school jerseys check around the mercado de San Telmo.
For last minute purchases there are always independent merchandise salesmen randomly near the stadium, but quality can vary greatly. Oddly, very few stadiums have official merchandise being sold on the grounds or within. For official merchandise its best to visit either the club office or the stores of the main clothing sponsor of the current team’s jersey (Ex: Nike is San Lorenzo’s clothing sponsor for 2015 so Nike will have San Lorenzo jerseys for sale at most locations).
Colors for the five big Buenos Aires teams (and the best ones to see play) are:
Boca Juniors: Blue & Yellow
Do NOT wear Red and White (rival, River Plate)
River Plate: Red & White
Do NOT wear Blue and Yellow (rival, Boca Juniors)
Racing Club: Blue & White
Do NOT wear, Red and white (rival, Independiente)
Independiente: Red and white.
Do NOT wear, blue and white (rival, Racing Club).
San Lorenzo: Red and blue.
Do NOT wear White and Red (rival, Huracan)
A good general rule of thumb is to not wear any Argentinian club jersey other than the home team or Argentinean national team.
As for weather not all stadiums/sections have roofs, so you’ll want to dress accordingly. The Racing and San Lorenzo- Platea Norte sections are fully covered. Everywhere else is partially or totally open to the elements so expect a wet seat if it’s raining or recently did. Games are rarely canceled due to weather, even when its as important as a Superclasico (this game resembled a water polo match more than futbol).
See you at La Cancha!