By Duncan Tucker
If you’re a sports fan, or simply want to experience some authentic local culture in Guadalajara, you could do no better than attending a live soccer game, Mexico’s favorite sport.
Soccer (also known as football locally) is followed religiously in Mexico and as a topic of conversation it is an instant, never-fail ice-breaker. Going to games is affordable, exciting and fun. The crowds also offer a surprisingly female-friendly environment, with more women in attendance than you would ever see at an English Premier League encounter, for example.
Guadalajara is home to three top-flight soccer clubs, or sides: Chivas, Atlas and Tecos.
Instantly recognizable by their red-and-white striped jerseys, Chivas de Guadalajara is the most popular club in Mexico. Having won 11 First Division titles and nine cups, it is also the most successful club in Mexican soccer.
Chivas plays at the Estadio Omnilife, a sleek and modern ground inaugurated in July 2010 by none other than Manchester United, who bought superstar striker Javier “Chicharito” Hernandez from Chivas earlier that year.
Chivas plays their home fixtures at 7 p.m. on Saturday evenings. Allow plenty of time to reach the ground as traffic can be heavy.
Situated on the western outskirts of the city, the stadium has the appearance of a volcano or a flying saucer perched atop a large, grassy mound. Although aesthetically pleasing, it can come across as slightly cold and corporate in comparison to their more atmospheric former home.
Prior to upping sticks across the city, Chivas used to share the Estadio Jalisco with local rivals Atlas. Perennial but loveable losers, Atlas has a loyal and vocal fan base and is one of Mexico’s longest established clubs.
Built in 1952, their historic 63,000-capacity stadium is the heart and soul of “Tapatio” soccer. Enormous and slightly decayed, it has hosted two classic World Cups, with the legendary Brazil side led by Pelé making it their adopted home throughout the tournament in 1970.
Located in the heart of the Independencia neighborhood in the north-east of the city, the Jalisco Stadium is surrounded by hundreds of stalls selling replica shirts, beer and delicious but spicy local cuisine. Like Chivas, Atlas also plays on Saturday nights, but at the later time of 8.45 p.m.
If you get the chance to attend the “Clásico Tapatio” – the feisty local grudge match when Chivas plays Atlas – do not turn it down. The atmosphere is raucous, with relentless singing and chanting, especially from the hardcore fans behind the goals who spend the entire game jumping up and down.
Guadalajara’s third professional team is Estudiantes Tecos, affiliated with the Autonomous University of Guadalajara (UAG). Originally an amateur club founded in 1935, Tecos joined the Mexican soccer league in 1971 and has one league title to date.
A peculiar club with no real fan base to speak of, Tecos plays in the Estadio Tres de Marzo, a 30,000-seater stadium in the Zapopan district of the city. It is rarely full of home supporters but traveling fans from visiting sides help to ensure a decent atmosphere prevails.
Tecos play their games on Friday nights at 8:10 p.m., making it the perfect way to begin a night out.
Tickets and directions:
Ticket prices can range from around 70-600 pesos, but regular tickets typically cost no more than 150 pesos ($10 USD).
Chivas, Estadio Omilife (Circuito JVC 2800, Zapopan) For ticket info see: http://www.chivascampeon.com/paginas/boletos.php
Atlas, Estadio Jalisco (Monte Carmelo & Fidel Velazquez, Independencia, Guadalajara) http://www.atlas.com.mx/
Tecos, Estadio Tres de Marzo (Avenida Patria 1201, Lomas del Valle, Zapopan) http://www.ticketmaster.com.mx/Estudiantes-Tecos-boletos/artist/1166835