Tragedy at Peru-Argentina Soccer Qualifier in 1964 Leave Hundreds Dead

Peru Argentina Soccer Riot on May 25

  • Eleven Israeli athletes and coaches were murdered by Palestinian terrorists during the Summer Games in Munich in 1972.
  • Dozens of protestors were said to have been killed by soldiers in Mexico City 10 days prior to the start of the 1968 Olympic Games.
  • But in 1964, no violence visited the Games of Tokyo, often cited as the last “innocent” or “pure” Games. Security was relatively lax, and athletes enjoyed freedom of movement amidst a population most friendly and cooperative.

And yet, a little over 4 months before the start of the XVIII Olympiad in Tokyo, an Olympic qualifying soccer match turned into a brutally bloody affair.

The match was in Lima, Peru, on May, 25, 1964. Argentina and Peru faced off, and the winner would go on to compete in Tokyo. With time running out and Argentina leading 1-0, Peru equalized. But the referee from Uruguay disallowed the goal, sending the 40,000 people in the stadium into an uproar. A mob rushed the field, police fought back with tear gas and dogs, people were trampled, fires were set – total chaos.

In the end, Argentina went on to compete in the Olympics in Tokyo, drawing once against Ghana as well losing to host Japan 3-2. But one could only imagine their psychological state after leaving South America, where some 200 to 300 people died on that terrible day in May.

Here is a grainy video report from that tragic match.