“They throw bags of piss at away fans”
“Don’t wear your US jersey”
“Stay safe…..good luck”
I must say I bought into the fear a bit before arriving (not that it was going to stop me from going), but it’s overblown. Seeing a match at the Azteca is a special experience that I highly recommend – and US vs Mexico makes takes it to a whole other level.
My trip to Azteca came together when I got offered a ticket from a friend of mine (who supports Mexico) I met at the World Cup in South Africa. Since I’m a big US supporter, it was a no brainer for me – I’ve always been interested in visiting the Azteca and a US/Mexico World Cup Qualifier is really the ultimate road game for a US fan. Also, I’d never been to a road qualifier and the US could use all the support it could get at the Azteca (where the US almost always loses), so it was perfect
The environment outside of the stadium before the game was great. There was a mariachi band and lots of singing. “Somos los verdes” (we are green) was chanted around 1000 times. Lots of beer was consumed.
The area was 98% Mexico supporters but everyone was totally cool – no one I encountered had any problems with US fans being there. People were even cooler when another fan with great signs gave me this.
This sign was quite popular – I think the gesture was very appreciated. We’re all united in opposition to Trump.
Getting to the away supporters section
Entering the stadium, I split off to see if I could sit in the US section. Signs are not allowed in the stadium, and those in charge won’t even make exceptions for signs that appropriately call Trump a “pendejo.” This was quite upsetting.
To find the US section, it took some walking around, but once I saw around 30 police officers blocking off a ramp inside the stadium I knew it was the spot.
I didn’t even have a ticket for the US section, but the police officers didn’t care and let me right in. I think they just want all of the away supporters in one place to prevent any problems, which is common in soccer practically everywhere. It seems they even undersell the section which allows for extra away fans to get inside.
The section was at the top level behind the goal and there was a solid US presence – at least 1,500 fans would be my guess. However, that’s nothing compared to the 80,000+ Mexico supporters in the rest of the stadium.
I’m not going to write about the game, but if you didn’t see it, it was a 1-1 draw. Considering how loud the stadium is, the altitude (7,500 feet up), Mexico’s strong play as of late, and their incredible record at the Azteca, this was a great result for the US.
Overall, the atmosphere was incredible and made the trip worthwhile. The Azteca has such a storied history and the US visiting is (likely) the stadium at its craziest. The Mexico supporters brought a lot of energy (except for when the US went up 1-0) and it’s pretty obvious why it’s such an intimidating stadium for opposing teams.
The US section was completely surrounded by police on every side. There was a policeman on the edge of every row – essentially, you could not walk in or out of the section without walking right into an officer. They really did a lot to make sure nothing bad would happen.
With that said, I didn’t see a single confrontation between a US fan and a Mexico fan, although I don’t know what happened in areas where US fans were in with Mexico fans. I also didn’t see any of these infamous “bags of piss” get thrown.
On the way out, there were police literally blocking US fans from everyone else right until the exit from the stadium.
With that said, even away from the police I had no problems wearing my US jersey and even had some additional people taking pictures after the match. When it comes to the fans in the stadium, everyone seemed pretty good.
Tips for going to Azteca
- Watch out for pickpockets outside of the stadium. Getting to our Uber after the game, we had to cross a really crowded overpass. During this time, my friend had his phone stolen right out of his pocket. Like many other big cities, Mexico City has its share of pickpocketers and big sporting events are a prime opportunity.
- Don’t wear a belt. They aren’t allowed inside the stadium.
- Bring beer to the pregame. They sell in the stadium, but not directly outside.
People will say a lot of things to try to scare you from Azteca – don’t let them scare you off. I thought the fans were really nice and I’ve seen much worse fan behavior at stadiums in the US. Watch your pockets, but if you have a chance to check out Azteca you should. It’s a great atmosphere and Mexico City is a really interesting city to visit.