Upon my return to Buenos Aires from Patagonia, I checked into a hostel in the trendy Palermo Soho neighborhood.
An upcoming Boca Juniors game was being advertised at the reception desk, and I knew I had to go.
Argentinians are incredibly passionate about football (soccer as we Americans know it), and Boca Juniors is the most popular team in the country.
For 600 pesos ($135), it was going to be by far the most I'd ever paid for a sporting event.
The price is for an organized tour, which includes the cost of the ticket, and some beer.
In Medellin, I attended three football games with friends (including one World Cup Qualifier).
It was my introduction to South American football, and the first game, in particular, was off the hook (crazy).
I'd heard rumors over the years about the fans at Boca games. They'd shake the stadium and occasionally throw urine or feces on the opponents' supporters.
For a variety of reasons, including the fact that it's hard to get tickets if you're not a card-carrying Boca fan (literally, they have ID cards), I decided to pay a premium for the group tour.
I also invited Mike and his girlfriend Stephanie to join me.
The afternoon began when we were picked up in a van at the hostel in Palermo.
We then made our way to La Boca, a rough-and-tumble, working-class neighborhood after which the team was named.
It's one of the neighborhoods that are notorious for pickpockets, which is another reason it makes sense to go with a group.
The price of the ticket included a beer and choripan (a sausage).
Of course I pictured we'd be getting these drinks in an English-style pub with wood trim, but in reality, it was more like a garage.
Upon arrival, there were already other people drinking and chatting.
As we began consuming as much watery beer as possible, new groups of tourists arrived.
Alberto J. Armando Stadium, better known as La Bombonera, was 100 meters down the street from the garage.
Soon after darkness fell, we walked over.
Each of us had been presented with an ID card belonging to one of the club's fans.
It didn't matter that Stephanie had no resemblance to Senor Fernandez; we need to present the cards as we passed the gate.
Our seating was behind one of the goals, with the die-hard Boca fan clubs seated at the opposite end of the stadium, behind the other goal.
We had a great view of them the whole game, but if I had my choice, I would've wanted to sit closer to the center line, as I did at the FC Barcelona match.
To get good seats in our concrete bleacher section, we had to arrive about an hour early.
This allowed us all to sit together. We killed time by eating ice cream and taking pictures with Mike's camera.
My camera broke for no apparent reason on the flight back from Ushuaia, and I didn't want to risk bringing my iPhone.
Ultimately, we were never in any danger. There were so many other foreigners seated around us; we were insulated.
The opposing team's fans were seated in the upper deck above us, so even if they wanted to throw something gross on us, they couldn't.
And because we had private transportation, there was little chance I was going to get my pocket picked after the match, as happened to me in Barcelona.
But back to the Boca Juniors game.
As the stadium filled up, and the game time drew near, a beautiful cheerleader squad emerged onto the field.
From halfway across the field, it was abundantly evident just how short and tight their uniforms were.
They proceeded to do a dance number that'd make any Colombian turn red.
These were dance moves you'd never see in the USA.
The match was against Lunas. The Boca Juniors jumped out to a quick 2-0 lead in the first half. With each new goal scored, the crowd erupted.
The super fans on the opposite end of the stadium sang their songs the whole match.
Now I know where DC United's Barra Brava got their name, songs, and spirit.
In the second half, the Lunas fought back, scoring two goals to draw even with the home team.
The super fans seemed stunned, and the rest of the game was a little quieter as a result.
I'm glad I went to the game. It was on my bucket list for Argentina, and South America as a whole, however once was enough.
Unless I'm paying for a match in Brazil or England or a World Cup-related game anywhere, I won't be paying $100+ again.
Dave is the Founder and Editor in Chief of Go Backpacking and Feastio. He's been to 66 countries and lived in Colombia and Peru. Read the full story of how he became a travel blogger.
Planning a trip? Go Backpacking recommends:
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Tuesday 5th of June 2012
maybe it was a little bit more reserved because they were playing against an ok team. my dream would be to see boca vs river plate, but it must be impossible to get tickets for something like that.
what about getting the tickets before hand? i had the same trouble in italy, but the tickets go on sale a few days before, or even on the website.
i gotta look into it.
so do you think it would be ok for me to go alone to one of those game?
Friday 1st of June 2012
i've gone to see Serie A derbies, champion's league games in portugal, and the list goes on. I live in montreal so going to these games have to be planned out very well because obviously i try to get tickets as locals do.
I'm planning a trip to Buenos Aires and seeing La Boca play is one of those things that you have to do when in Buenos Aires.......imagine going to see a superclasico?
anyhow, i wanted to know, did you try to get a ticket another way? it doesn't seem like much what you piad, but for them it must have been 4 times the price!
so not what you expected?
Monday 4th of June 2012
No, I didn't try to get a ticket another way. I was advised that you could go to the stadium and try to find one before the game.
I went the easy route, and that's why it cost so much. While I didn't want urine thrown on me, that's the kind of rowdiness I was lead to expect.
I think my first South American soccer match in Medellin, Colombia was hard to beat (a classic, so the stadium was rocking the whole match). Riot police in the stands, police on horse back. It was crazy. The Boca game looked a lot more reserved.
Thursday 31st of May 2012
When I was in BA a few years back I went to a Boca game with a few Argentinians I was staying with. We sat (stood) in the standing crazy section and it was packed out. Unfortunately in the commotion and the chaos of everyone jumping up and down, as I was taking a photo a guy grabbed my hand twisted and stole my camera. As soon as I had even realized what had happened, he had disappeared through the swarms of people.
I did know that bringing my camera was a risk, so I wasn't too disappointed other than losing the pictures of the game and I still had a great time watching, but no photos to show of it. I guess sometimes it's worth it to pay a little extra for a group tour, but also you never can predict what might happen!
Monday 4th of June 2012
A guy at my hostel here in Bolivia just told us how he went to the stadium and bought Boca tickets for 100 pesos, or about $25! He said the seats were in the Away team section. He said he just went to the stadium with a friend and hung out until he found them (forgot exactly who he got them from). Big savings if you do it yourself.
Monday 28th of May 2012
$137 is roughly £87, thats not too bad I guess for the tour and some added safety i guess. Most i've paid is £55 ticket, £70 train, £50 spending money ... and we lost. Money well spent :-(
Footy is an expensive spectator sport, but every now and then something happens which makes it totally worth it!
Great write up and love the pictures! I too would like to see a S.American game. Their fans are supposed to go nutty when they score.