The Best FIFA Football Awards™

Monday 24 September 2018, London

The Best FIFA Football Awards™

From Peru with love

  • Peru’s 40,000-strong army of fans lit up Russia 2018 with their passionate support
  • Their vibrant and colourful showing won the hearts of locals and rival fans alike
  • Among the three nominees for the FIFA Fan Award 2018

A triunfar peruanos
Que somos hermanos
Que se haga victoria nuestra gran gratitud
Te daré la vida y cuando yo muera
¡Me uniré en la tierra contigo Perú!

When he was commissioned to write Contigo Perú (With you, Peru) in 1977, the Peruvian composer Augusto Polo Campos could not have imagined that 41 years later legions of his compatriots would sing it tearfully and at the top of their voices in the football stadiums of Russia.

Widely regarded by Peruvians as their second national anthem, that song of eternal devotion to their homeland rang loud and clear in Saransk, Ekaterinburg and Sochi at the 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia™. In the process it came to symbolise the incredibly passionate support of the Blanquirroja fans, who have been shortlisted for the FIFA Fan Award 2018.

Sadly for them, Ricardo Gareca’s team were unable to advance beyond the group phase. Such was the quality of their football, that they deserved a better fate, though no one was more deserving than the army of Peruvian fans who cheered them on. There were 40,000 of them in the stands and many more in the streets, and they earned the admiration of locals and rival fans alike for their passion, vibrancy and determination to enjoy themselves.

They began their showstopping spectacle at their side’s opening match, against Denmark, turning the stands of the Mordovia Arena into an extension of Lima, Cusco and Arequipa with their national team shirts, red and white adornments, and traditional Incan attire. All that was missing were the snacks that go on sale for Peru’s home games at Lima’s Estadio Nacional: pulled chicken, chorizo sandwiches, and grilled beef hearts.

“I’ve never seen anything like it at the World Cup,” said former England international and ITV pundit Lee Dixon when commentating on Peru’s second match, the defeat to France at the Ekaterinburg Arena. Despite the near 14,000 kilometres separating the Russian city from the Peruvian capital, the stadium was a sea of red and white. And despite the scoreline, the fans roared their encouragement from the stands, creating an almighty din.

Peru’s colourful case of World Cup fever had begin in earnest on 16 November, when La Blanquirroja defeated New Zealand in the intercontinental play-off to book a place at the world finals for the first time in 36 years.

The response from the fans was overwhelming. During the second phase of ticket sales for the World Cup, between December 2017 and January 2018, Peru ranked in the top five countries in terms of demand, and was among the top ten overall.

See also

FIFA Fan Award: Vote now!

The Blanquirroja invasion of Russia generated hundreds of stories, some of which received global media coverage. Figuring among them was the fan who gave up his job in Los Angeles to support his side, the friends who used all their life savings to make the trip, the cyclist who pedalled all the way from Italy to Russia, and the 80-year-old diehard fan who took three flights and a ten-hour train journey just attend Peru’s first group match against the Danes.

“The journey was brutal for me but how could I miss this?” Manuelito, the elderly fan in question, told the BBC, his voice hoarse with the excitement of it all. “We have waited so long, I have waited so long, to sing our songs in another country once again.”

Hailing from Peru and from many other countries across the world, the Blanquirroja army took Russia 2018 by storm with their passion and exuberance. Can they repeat the trick in London on 24 September?

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