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Why Go To a Football Match in Peru?

Written by:
Claire Dean

Published: 20-04-2023

Just like the whole of Latin America, football is the sport choice for Peruvian people. Transported by an invincible fever during a match, opposing traditional rivals, all the country seems to be suspended in time when it is match day. Sunday’s Pichanga is also inescapable, a local match between different football clubs, with friends, on wasteland,  on a "cancha" or in the highlands of lost Andean communities, everybody plays football, all over the country. As well as being a national pastime, football is very much a community activity and the sport continues to unite people from all different walks of life when it's time for the football match. Find out more about why you should go to a football match when you visit Peru.


Remote Andean Community

Peru Has a Long Football History


Peru has been playing football since the 1800s when the sport was imported to the country by British sailors and immigrants. As early as 1845, the influential sports group the Salon de Comercio was promoting the spread of fútbol alongside fellow British imports such as cricket and Rugby. In 1912, the country hosted its first league competition, featuring teams that still dominate the Peruvian leagues to this day, Alianza Lima and the Universitario de Deportes. By 1927, the country had its own official national team, known popularly as Los Incas or La Blanquirroja, after the red and white colors of their football strip, which played in the first-ever World Cup in 1930 and the 1936 Olympics in Berlin. Since that time, football in Peru has only expanded, with teams competing locally and internationally.


Peru´s National Football Strip


The National Team


The Peruvian national soccer team of the 1970s (known as The Golden Generation) probably deserves a spot on the list as well. After a decline in the 60s, La Blanquirojo came roaring back with a team of young stars, whose careers climaxed with their victory at the 1975 Copa America. The new team stunned the world at the 1970 World Cup with shocking victories over Argentina, Bulgaria, Germany, and Morocco, before losing to Brazil 4-2 in what is still widely considered to be one of the greatest World Cup matches ever played. The Golden Generation even had its own version of Michael Jordan or Babe Ruth: Teófilo Cubillas, who the International Federation of Football History and Statistics has ranked as the 48th greatest soccer player of the 20th century. To this day Cubillas still holds the record for most goals scored by any Peruvian player.


The National Team

Football and Music


In 1969, composer Félix Figueroa Goytizolo was inspired to write a polka that would immortalize the first Peruvian team to ever qualify for the World Cup. Players like Teófilo Cubillas and Héctor Chumpitaz were among those cemented in the lyrics of the song, titled “Peru, Campeón.” Those were the glory days for Peruvian soccer—participating in World Cups and winning a Copa América title in 1975. In 1978, composer Augusto Polo Campos’ “Contigo Perú” became the anthem that led the team to qualify for the second time for the World Cup. Peru really likes combining music when it comes to the World Cup and football in general. These songs have continued to be a way to support La Blanquirroja throughout the years and were amped up more than ever in 2017 to nudge Peru into the Russia 2018 world cup.


Copa America Match


Wearing the Blanquirroja


Red-and-white is pretty much your skin for 90 minutes when Peru is playing. Peruvians will most likely be wearing the jerseys of la Blanquirroja or have the Peru flag draped over their shoulders like a cape.  ESPN also reported that jersey sales in Peru climbed to over three million before the first game of the inter-confederation playoffs against New Zealand for world cup qualifying.


Peru Football Fans


¡Arriba Perú, carajo!


There’s “¡Viva Perú, carajo!” and “¡Vamos Perú, Carajo!” too, so you can switch it up as you please, but all these phrases hold the same R-rated patriotic sentiment: LONG LIVE PERU! And well, if you’re not Peruvian, you may be thinking carajo is a swear word, and you’re probably right. But Peruvians use this phrase as an interjection to proclaim our love for the country. “¡Arriba Perú, carajo!” is just as patriotic as ceviche and Inca Kola, and the best way to raise spirits before a game begins.  


The Hardcore Cienciano Fans

Paolo Guerrero 

Paolo Guerrero, Peru’s leading all-time scorer, the player who scored six goals in the final round of qualifiers, and the man who basically got Peru to qualify for the world cup..... failed a drug test. It could be flu medicine, or the coca tea he was given at the club hotel....who knows, but the point is that he’s not playing in the final game that will DETERMINE PERUVIAN LIVES FOREVER. I’m being dramatic, but fútbol is dramatic. Everyone was on edge to hear any news when it comes to the golden boy of Peruvian football. Even though Peru hadn't made it to a World Cup in 36 years, doesn’t mean that Peru fans don’t get pumped to watch when their team plays in World Cup qualifiers or in any other matches—especially in the last couple of years. In the 2015 Copa América, Peru made it to third place, and last year, the team made it to the quarterfinals at the Copa América Centenario. The World Cup qualifiers gave even more of a reason to bring out the pisco, pop open a cerveza, and party. At the end of the day, win or lose, after a couple of rounds, it could carry on the party or serve to ease the pain of disappointment. Not to get all somber, but how do young Peruvian fans know the pain of missing a World Cup time after time after time?  For many Peruvians, their parents and grandparent tasted that bit of glory in the ‘70s and remained hopeful it’ll happen again in their lifetime. Even though Peru hasn’t made it to a World Cup in 36 years, that doesn’t mean that Peru fans don’t get pumped to watch when their team plays in World Cup qualifiers or in any other matches—especially in the last couple of years. 



Peru did qualify but Guerrero faced a 14-month ban for the alleged doping. However, due to an appeal, Guerrero was allowed to make his World Cup debut on 16 June 2018, coming off the bench in the 1–0 loss to Denmark. On 26 June, he assisted André Carrillo's goal, which was Peru's first World Cup goal in 36 years, and scored the second goal in Peru's 2–0 win over Australia, in the team's final group match, as his side suffered a first-round exit from the competition.


Paulo Guerrero Against Brazil


Club Football


The ups and downs of the national team only add to the suspense and emotion faced on a weekly basis at club level. The Peruvian league and competitions such as the South American Cup and The Copa Libertadores, keep the football scene interesting. Cienciano from Cusco is still the only team to win a South American cup, which they did in 2003 beating River Plate from Argentina in the final.  Being the only Peruvian team to win an international tournament at team level. You can easily go and watch Cienciano when you travel to Cusco, Peru. If you want to go to a match in Lima, the main teams are Universitario, Alianza Lima, and Sporting Cristal. Matches are generally on a weekend and tickets are usually available. We recommend buying a ticket in the “occidental” which are generally the most expensive but are seated and are the safest parts of any stadium, with the home fans.  Ask here for more information.


Recently Promoted Cienciano of Cusco


So a long story cut short, should you go to a football match in Peru? The answer is YES! Foreigners are widely accepted in Peruvian football stadiums and wearing the colors or the shirt of the home team is generally a good way to stay safe and make new friends!  If you would like to go to a football match, we can include this exciting option on a custom Peru tour... just ask!