Paraguay has been playing in and hosting World Cup qualifying soccer games for the 2018 tournament to be held in Russia. Recent competitors have included Colombia, Bolivia, Brazil, and Peru. I went to the Paraguay/Peru game with a group from the Embassy.
The game was at the Defensores del Chaco stadium, home stadium for Paraguay’s national soccer team.
Inside, the stadium was packed and everyone was in their seats well before the game began.
When we got to our seats, each seat had a large colored piece of paper taped to it. When everyone held up their paper at the appointed time just before the start of the game, it spelled “Gracias Roque” thanking star player Roque Santa Cruz who, just two days before the game, announced his retirement from the National Team. Accompanying fireworks were a nice touch!
The band played the national anthems of Peru and Paraguay and the game began.
Paraguay quickly scored the first goal.
Chipa, the Paraguayan artisanal bread snack (dense and bagel-shaped), was for sale everywhere.
Although Pilsen beer is advertised around the stadium, there is no alcohol for sale at the game. They do sell non-alcoholic beer with a tag line of “0% alcohol, 100% beer”.
If chipa and alcohol-free beer aren’t your thing, you can instead get hotdogs, popcorn, or warm pop.
Fans showed support for their team with face paint, flag waving, bare chests, coordinated chants and waving, and interestingly, opening and raising umbrellas.
I left when the second half was halfway over and the score was 1-1. Unfortunately things went downhill quickly for Paraguay who lost the game 1-4.
It was a fun game but not the results we wanted!