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The Flight of the Eagle

A visit to Mexico City could well be graced with a visit to the Aztec Stadium to watch a soccer match

Aztec Stadium in Mexico City

Mexico’s national sport is soccer, and Mexicans are passionate about the game, so a trip to Mexico City could well be graced with a visit to the Aztec Stadium to see a soccer match. The massive concrete structure located in the south of the capital, on Calzada de Tlalpan, seats more than 100,000 people. It has been the site of two World Cup finals (1970 and 1986), and is the home ground for Mexico’s national team.

At one time, the stadium was also home to four Mexico City teams, although two (Necaxa and Atlante) moved to other cities, and a third (Cruz Azul) has its own stadium elsewhere in the capital.  That leaves just America, nicknamed las Aguilas — the Eagles — playing its home games there.

There are only two kinds of soccer fans in Mexico – those who support America and those who cheer on whoever is playing against America, regardless of which their favorite team is.

Among reasons given for hating America (apart from the head-scratching, “because it’s owned by Televisa,” the TV company), are that referees favor America in their decisions on the field. In years past, it was also claimed that other teams owned by Televisa let America win their games. This was frequently shown on the field to be nonsense, and now the point is moot, anyway, as Televisa no longer owns other first-division teams.

Among the liberal classes, the team of choice is often Pumas of the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM), who incidentally are having a good season in 2018. Admitting to one of these that you support America can be met with eyebrows raised in a look of incredulity, as much as to say, “really, you ought to know better.” They suppose you must also watch soap operas.

Anyway, going to the Aztec Stadium is an exhilarating experience, particularly for a big match when there are likely to be anything from 60,000 to 80,000 spectators.

Some words of practical advice. Get tickets before you go to the stadium, unless you plan to be there with plenty of time in hand. If you just show up an hour or so before a game, you will only be able to get tickets from touts for at least 50% more than the list price for regular matches, and double or more if it’s a “clásico,” such as AmericaGuadalajara or AmericaPumas. Buying from touts also risks being sold fake tickets which are checked and refused at the entry gate.  Lines at the stadium’s box office — taquilla — are long, ticket availability limited, and service painfully slow, even for games with relatively few spectators, so you are quite likely to miss the first part of the match. Ticketmaster with its additional service charge is probably the best option for buying tickets.

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