In Colombia – and especially in Cali – people are very passionate about two things: Salsa and fútbol! Both are ingrained deep in their roots, and most Caleños will have a hard time denying their love for either.
Here’s how my buddy Rodrigo describes it…
“A Caleño is a salsa lover from birth, but the fútbol is a different history. Personally, my love-relationship with this eleven-man sport began when I was nine years old. It was a very special Sunday… People woke up earlier. The neighborhood’s stores closed early. The streets were painted red and green, and my brother was happier than ever. The reason? ¡El Clásico! – where two of the most powerful teams in the city, and two of the biggest futbol clubs in the country, Deportivo Cali (Cali), and América de Cali (América), were to face each other in the Olympic stadium, Pascual Guerrero – an architectural jewel with a 33.000 people capacity. El Pascual is for many considered the pride of our city, an emblematic symbol for everything really Caleño, just like the chontaduro, el champus, la chuspa, and the ¡mira ve!
That Sunday afternoon, when my brother took me to El Pascual for the first time in my life, I felt the magic of the futbol flow through my veins. In San Fernando, the barrio where El Pascual is located, the streets were closed. The Cali and América fans were ecstatic. The air was full of energy, happiness and empowered by loud fans singing for their teams.”
So while I’m not a big fan of soccer/football/fútbol, I had to succumb to peer pressure when a few of my fellow vikings came to visit and demanded that we go to watch a game. My neigbor, who does not look like he has ever performed any sports in his life, is a sports fanatic, and he arranged for the tickets in the sportsbar located in the southeast corner of the stadium with an amazing view of the field and the Farallones mountains in the back. Although alcohol is not allowed during games, my neighbor also managed to negotiate a few beers for us from the bartender during the game… ssssshhh.
This was a couple of years ago, so the details may be fading, but I remember that the game was with Deportivo Cali. It was a tie. There were 4 red cards, 3 penalties and electricity went out on the entire stadium 2 times. In essence, everything you’d expect from a good game in Latin America 🙂
The score didn’t matter to me. The real treat was watching the excitement of the fans, both outside the stadium and during the game. They did not stop jumping nor singing for the 90 minutes that the game took place. During the break, they were equally ecstatic. In December last year, I went to one of the important games determining if América would ascend to the A league – Liga Aguila – after spending several years in the B. The stadium was packed with people wearing red. Honestly, I do not think that the competing team had 100 people supporting them. It seemed like the red devils had purchased every single available ticket. The atmosphere was truly amazing and even more so when finally the game was won by the locals. Passion like this is hard to find anywhere in the world, and even if you – like me – do not care too much for the game, it’s definitely an experience, that you should put on your list of things to do when visiting Colombia.
Also, if you want to blend in, make sure to pick up a shirt for the team that you’ll be rooting for. The originals can be found at the fan shops at the stadium. Copies are sold in all the traffic lights around the stadiums on game days and go for around $45.000 pesos.
Snacks and soft drinks are sold during the games.
According to the International Federation of Football History and Statistics, Colombia has the 2nd most competitive league in the world, meaning that it is very rare to see the same team two years in a row. The federation also states that Colombia has the 3rd most powerful league in Latin America, only surpassed by Brazil and Argentina.
Where to go
There are two stadiums Palmaseca and Pascual Guerrero.
Palmaseca is officially the Depotivo Cali stadium and lies along the road between Cali and Palmira.
Pascual Guerrero is where América plays and it is located in the middle of the city.
Carrera 36 # 5b-32
Barrio San Fernando
Where to buy
If you want to go to an America de Cali Game you can buy tix at the counter at Cine Colombia in
Calle 5N # 50-103
Carrera 100 # 5-169
Centro Comercial Palmetto
Carrera 49 # 9-50
Calle 75AN # 20-81
Primera Fila in Chipichape
Avenida 6A #37N-25
or at the Pascual Guerrero stadium at the Caseta La Maria or the Official América de Cali shop.
If you want to go to a Deportivo Cali game you can buy tix at the customer service counters in the Éxito Supermarkets:
Av. 3F Norte # 52N-46
Éxito Carrera Octava:
Carrera 8 # Calle 13
Éxito Palmetto Plaza:
Calle 9 # Carrera 50
Éxito San Fernando:
Calle. 5 # 38D-35
By the entrance on Avenida Pasoancho
Just like any other big venue, you’ll always find resellers in front of the venues on game day, and for the bigger games you can expect the prices to be pretty jacked up.
When to go
During the game season which is from February to June and from July to December.
Avoid wearing a green shirt (Cali) at the red section (América) of the stadium – and vice versa – during the clásicos when the two local teams meet. If you’re bringing young/small/old/weak people to a game, then it’s preferable to allow the masses exit the stadium first, because it can get pretty packed quite pushy.
Other than, have fun and enjoy!