Sunday, November 09, 2014
Football has seen a lot of rivalries develop between clubs during it's rich and long history which can be traced back to more than a century. During that time, countless managers and players have come and gone but the clubs have lived on with their pride and legacy being passed on from generation to generation to keep the rivalry fueled. No other match is given as much importance to than derbies. These are more than just matches, more than just 3 points. these are matters where the pride of the club and the fans is at stake, it is an all out war between both the clubs with the victor earning the bragging rights over their rivals.
Here is a look at some of the most prestigious and sought after derbies in the world of football. There are many many derbies played across the globe, although it is impossible to say which is the biggest or the fiercest, because how do you measure what makes one derby match more important or intense than the another. Is it about history, locality, crowd size, religious or political factors etc?
One thing for sure though is that if you are a fan of one of the sides involved in a derby match, whether it be between two London clubs, two Milan clubs, two Madrid clubs or two Rio clubs, in the eyes of the supporter your own derby is always the biggest!
However some of these derbies in this article include great fixtures around the world with which you may not be so familiar.
Esteghlal v Persepolis (Tehran Derby, Iran)
So important is the city derby between Esteghlal and Persepolis in Tehran, the capital of Iran, that businesses close down on the day of the game.
Arguably the biggest derby in Asia, the Tehran derby regularly attracts crowds of 100,000, while an average of 20 million people across Iran tune in to watch the game on television.
The first derby match between the teams took place on April 5, 1968. Both clubs were relatively young but Persepolis had a solid fan base, because of its close association to the once popular Shahin club.
Over time, the rivalry became more heated and club fans began attaining collective identities. By the mid-1970s Persepolis was seen as a working class club, while Taj was viewed as a club close to the ruling establishment and supported by the upper class of Iranian society. Persepolis fans outnumbered Esteghlal fans by large numbers at the time and still do.
Because of the sensitive nature of the matches, fan violence has occurred several times. In minor cases fans break chairs or throw garbage at the field, but more notable cases of violence have involved physical fights between opposing teams and fans, storming of the field by fans, as well as significant destruction of public property.
Ever since 1995, federation officials have invited foreign referees to officiate the game to ease fan and player suspicions of referee bias.
Over the years, a number of players have played for both of the heavily supported clubs. Switching sides often angers fans, and players who have done so are heavily booed and mocked in and out of the stadium. When Mehdi Hasheminasab joined Esteghlal, Persepolis fans booed and swore at him so loudly that he covered his face with his hands to hide his tears.
As of 17 January 2014, there have been 76 competitive first-class meetings between the two teams since the first league meeting in 1970, of which Esteghlal has won 24 and Persepolis 18.
Olympiacos vs. Panathinaikos (Derby of the Eternal Adversaries, Athens, Greece)
This football derby held in Athens betweeen the two most successful football clubs in Greece is also called the 'Mother of all Battles.' The rivalry between Olympiacos and Panathinaikos and their fans is hugely intense, thus this derby has always been a classic for the Greek capital, as well as the whole of Greece and is the most prestigious in the country.
The rivalry between the two top Greek clubs can be traced back to some social, cultural and regional differences. Panathinaikos, founded in 1908, comes from the centre of Athens and was considered the classic representative of the high class society of the Greek capital. On the other hand, Olympiacos was founded in 1925 and comes from Piraeus, the port of Athens, thus attracting supporters from the surrounding working class area.
These class differences between the people in the homelands of the two clubs offered further reasons for the animosity between their fans. Olympiacos' early success provided a way for the people of Piraeus to express their contempt for the wealthier classes, by which Panathinaikos was heavily supported. Furthermore, Olympiacos attracted fans from all over Greece who believed themselves to be victims of social and political unfairness. However, this kind of clash was much more pronounced in the past, as the class differences between the fanbases have faded out and the social gap that once separated the two sides has closed over the years. Nowadays, both clubs boast fanbases that represent all the social classes. The trouble continues though.
Football hooliganism is a very common phenomenon between their fans in recent years, featuring anything from fighting, throwing petrol bombs, street rioting and attempts to torch the team coach of their fierce rivals.
The hatred is so intense that many violent incidents have taken place in several regions of Athens, especially before or after a derby.
When Greece's two major powers met last March, Panathinaikos manager Yannis Anastasiou (above) was left sprawled on the touchline after being hit by an object thrown from the crowd.
Serious disturbances broke out in March 2012. The start of the second half was delayed by 45 minutes as fans pelted police with Molotov cocktails, flares and missiles, and the game was subsequently abandoned altogether. Twenty police officers were injured and more than 50 arrests were made while three fire engines were called in to extinguish flames as hundreds of fans set alight sections of the stands.
Two years earlier, a late Olympiakos winner by former Blackburn forward Matt Derbyshire prompted Panathinaikos fans to try to set fire to the visitors' team coach.
On the pitch Olympiacos is the most successful football club in Greece, having won a record 71 major official titles compared to Panathinaikos' 41 titles and also being the most successful in their head-to-head fixtures, although no Greek team has ever won a European title.
Al Ahly vs. Zamalek (Cairo Derby, Egypt)
The Cairo showdown between Egyptian sides Al Ahly and Zamalek - the country's two most successful clubs - is so fierce that local officials are not entrusted with the fixture, with foreign referees instead brought in. Back in 2001 Scottish referee Kenny Clark, was appointed to take charge of Africa's biggest and arguably the continent's most hotly contested derby, and was flown in under the cover of darkness prior to the fixture. Clark and his fellow officials were also assigned a bodyguard who stuck with them throughout their time in Cairo.
The game itself passed by largely without incident until the final 10
minutes, when bottles and bricks were thrown on to the pitch, prompting Clark to tell his linesmen not to go near the corner flags.
"I said go as far as the 18-yard box for offsides but don't go any further - if you get an offside wrong, you get it wrong, it is not worth getting a rock on the head for," added Clark.
"We managed to get the riot police to move the fans further up the terracing and we were able to finish the game."
In the end, Zamalek took the derby honours, beating Al Ahly 2-1.
Flamengo vs. Vasco da Gama (Clássico dos Milhões - Rio, Brazil)
Clássico dos Milhões (meaning "Derby of Millions") is the name of the classic Brazilian derby between Flamengo and Vasco da Gama, both from Rio de Janeiro city, considered the greatest Brazilian football derby and one of the biggest in football worldwide. Flamengo v Fluminense ('Fla-Flu') might be better known around the world, but the Rio derby that really gets the city going is Flamengo against Vasco da Gama
Introduced by the British, football in Brazil spread down from the elites and Vasco, the club of the city's Portuguese immigrants, did more than anyone to give the process a push.
Having developed from an existing rivalry between 'rowing clubs' of the same name, it is one of the oldest in Brazil and also one of the most followed in the country, with the two teams boasting an estimated 45 million fans between them - about 20% of the country's population.
Vasco won the Rio first division at the first attempt in 1923, with a team including both black and white players from poor backgrounds. Their success provoked a furious backlash from the traditional elite clubs, among them Flamengo.
But in the mid-1930s, seeing which way the political winds were blowing, a visionary Flamengo president signed the leading three black players of the day - among them centre-forward Leonidas, charismatic and controversial.
At a stroke an elite club had rebranded itself, acquiring the popular touch and stealing Vasco's thunder - provoking a rivalry which grows deeper with time.
Genoa v Sampdoria (Derby della Lanterna, Genoa, Italy)
Turin, Roma and Milan steal the headlines but Genoa and Sampdoria who steal the show when it comes to Italian derbies.
The Derby della Lanterna, Italian for the 'Derby of the Lighthouse' is played between U.C. Sampdoria, and Genoa C.F.C. It takes place in the Luigi Ferraris Stadium, which both clubs share.
When it comes to passion, when it comes to build up, when it comes to the sheer enjoyment of calcio being presented in its truest form nothing beats the Genoa versus Sampdoria derby.
The rivalry is fueled by the fact that Genoa has a long history, being Italy's oldest football club (founded in 1893), while Sampdoria is the country's newest continuously operating club (formed in a merger in 1946).
The buzz in the city before the game ensnares anyone and everyone in the city of Genoa. The build up in recent years has been dulled with some poor seasons from both, but now with the two sides playing for potential Europa League spots at the end of the season, renewed optimism on both sides makes this game an enthralling view.
The fans are not divided in class nor political stance, as there is none which separate the teams. The game stands alone as two teams dividing a city in purest motives with wonderful passion and colour.
Such is the rivalry that it seems both sides will go to great lengths to get any sort of edge over the other - even resorting to dressing in camouflage and spying on training. That is what happened last year (2013), when Genoa youth team coach Luca De Pra was found hiding in bushes observing a training session held by Sampdoria.
De Pra was suspended by his club, with Sampdoria releasing a tongue-in-cheek statement which read: "Like Rambo hidden among the branches on the hill, Luca De Pra failed to overcome Sampdoria's intelligence and counter-intelligence operations. However, no prisoners were taken and no blood was shed. You should always forgive your enemies, as nothing annoys them more."
The incident, though, highlighted how important the game is to the two sides.
Dinamo Zagreb vs. Hajduk Split (Eternal Derby, Croatia)
The rivalry can be traced back to 1920's when Zagreb's Građanski and Hajduk often clashed in the Kingdom of Yugoslavia championships. After World War II, Građanski was disbanded by the authorities, and Dinamo Zagreb was formed to take its place, retaining its royal blue colours.
The Eternal Derby also known as the Croatian Derby, and is the name given to matches between the two biggest and most popular Croatian football clubs Dinamo Zagreb and Hajduk Split.
An important aspect of the Croatian derby are the fans. Both sides prepare intensely between the matches, make large flags and special messages that are appropriate for that particular occasion, to be usually directed towards the opposing side.
The 'Bad Blue Boys' (BBB) were originally founded on 17 March 1986 in Zagreb (Croatia), with members from different areas of Zagreb. The BBB are considered one of the most dangerous supporters' groups in the world and are known for their vocal and physical intimidation at football matches. At home matches in Dinamo Zagreb's Maksimir Stadium, the Bad Blue Boys usually settle behind the home goal on the stadium's north stand.
'Torcida Split' or just 'Torcida' is the Hajduk Split supporters' group. Founded on 28 October 1950, it's known as one of the oldest supporters' groups in Europe and one of the largest in Southeast Europe. The slogan of the fans, "Hajduk lives forever" testifies to the long and continuing tradition of Hajduk Split, which has survived without change from its establishment until today, while states and leagues have failed, "Hajduk lives forever." Torcida members and other fervent fans of the club gather in the north stand at the Poljud Stadium in Split.
Mohun Bagan v East Bengal (Kolkata Derby, Calcutta, India)
East Bengal versus Mohun Bagan is undoubtedly the definitive rivalry in Indian football. The Calcutta derby is the only football match in India capable of challenging cricket for popularity.
Culturally, this derby is very similar to Scottish Premier League's Old Firm derby, since a majority of the Mohun Bagan supporters represent the 'nativist' population (similar to Rangers FC) whilst the 'immigrant' population, support East Bengal, now Bangladesh (similar to Celtic FC).
Matches between the two have been fiercely contested for the past 89 years.
They have regularly drawn crowds of 100,000 at the Salt Lake Stadium. Arguably, the most memorable Kolkata derby of all took place in 1997, when a remarkable crowd of 131,000 – a record attendance for any sport in India – filled a heaving Salt Lake Stadium.
The first major meeting between the two clubs occurred in 1925 and resulted in a 1-0 win for East Bengal in a Calcutta League match.In the return league of 1925 Mohun Bagan defeated East Bengal by the same score.
As we speak, the Kolkata rivals East Bengal and Mohun Bagan have played 308 matches against each other. East Bengal fans have got their noses comfortably ahead as they have won more than their city rivals.
Partizan Belgrade vs. Red Star Belgrade (Belgrade Derby or Derby of Southeast Europe, Serbia)
The biggest match in Serbia takes place in the capital of Serbia, Belgrade.
The origins of Red Star and Partizan are in political institutions.
Red Star were formed on 4 March 1945 by 'United alliance of anti-fascist Youth,' part of the new civil authority in Yugoslavia.
A few months later, on 4 October 1945, Partizan was founded as the sports association of the Yugoslav People's Army.
The first match between these football sections was played on 5 January 1947.
Partizan's supporters, known as 'Grobari' (Gravediggers or Undertakers), were formed in 1970. The origin of the nickname itself is uncertain, but an accepted theory is that it was given by their biggest rivals, the Red Star fans, referring to club's mostly black colours which were similar to the uniforms of cemetery undertakers.
Supporters of Red Star are known as 'Delije' roughly translated in English as Heroes.
When Red Star Belgrade is the host, the derby is played at Red Star Stadium. Colloquially known as Marakana after the famous Brazilian stadium, it was opened in 1963. Its current capacity is 55,000 spectators. The 'Delije' often call it 'Mara' for short, The 'Grobari' use the insulting name 'Rupa' ('The Hole').
When the host is Partizan, the derby is played at Partizan Stadium, formerly known as JNA Stadium which is still its common name. It was opened in 1949. Its capacity is 32,710 spectators. Partizan fans call it Fudbalski Hram (English: 'Temple of the Football'). The Delije use the insulting name 'Lavor' ('The Washbowl').
The derby’s most infamous day came in 1999 when a 17 year old boy was killed when he was hit by a flare let off in the opposition stand. Red Star have been more successful with numbers, as they are the only Serbian team to win a European trophy.
Fenerbahçe vs. Galatasaray (Intercontinental Derby, Turkey)
The derby fixture between Fenerbahçe SK and Galatasaray SK, is more than a century in existence and involves two major Turkish teams from different parts of Istanbul.
The clubs originate from two different sides of the Bosphorus. Fenerbahçe SK were founded in Kadıköy that is located in the Asian side of Istanbul, while Galatasaray SK were founded in Galatasaray, on the European side of Istanbul. Both clubs naturally draw the majority of their support from the side of the city that they're native to, but maintain a significant majority of support drawn from the rest of Turkey. It is also a local derby, one of many involving Istanbul clubs. This fixture and has developed into an intense and often bitter rivalry, traditionally attracting large attendances.
The first game played between the two sides was a friendly game on Sunday, 17 January 1909, but the rivalry did not start until Friday 23 February 1934 when unexpected riots happened at a supposed to be friendly match between the two clubs played at Taksim Stadi. Both teams wanted to win badly and the high tension on the pitch caused high tension in the stands as well. The game ended with players fighting, the pitch turned out to be a war area. The referee had no choice except to abandon the match. It was the end of friendly displays between both clubs. The trouble continues though.
When Manchester United visited Galatasaray in the Champions League in 1993, the home fans greeted them at the airport with 'Welcome to Hell' banners!
Gary Pallister recalls: "I remember we were staying in this beautiful place on the Bosphorus. It used to be a palace and had an absolutely massive foyer. I was the last off the bus carrying my kit and was maybe 30 yards behind the rest of the lads as they were checking in. One of the bellboys was standing by the door and I smiled at him. He ran his finger across his throat and I carried on walking, thinking: We are not safe even in this hotel."
They were not safe on the two-decker coach that had its windows put through....!
An hour before kick-off, Ferguson ordered his players on to the pitch to take in the atmosphere.
"There were so many flares and so much smoke, it seemed the entire stadium was on fire," Gary Neville recalled. After the game as the players descended into the underground dressing-rooms, Eric Cantona was attacked by a policeman and so, too, was Bryan Robson as he tried to intervene. Istanbul that night created the single most intimidating atmosphere Sir Alex Ferguson said he has ever endured.
When Graeme Souness was Galatasaray manager back in 1996, he was so pleased with victory over their arch rivals, he famously planted a club flag in the centre of Fenerbahce's pitch!
Even a veteran of the great derbies of Glasgow, Liverpool and Genoa was lost in the drama and passion of this fixture!
He narrowly avoided the wrath of Fener supporters by escaping through a tunnel of riot policemen!
Fenerbahçe SK are the more successful team in terms of 'Intercontinental Derby' victories beteween the two clubs, while Galatasaray SK can boast success in Europe, winning the 2000 UEFA Cup Final and the 2000 UEFA Super Cup, and being the only Turkish team to have achieved European success to date.
# Other famous but possibly less familiar derbies:
Ajax Cape Town vs. Santos F.C (Cape Town Derby)
Lyon vs. Marseille (Choc des Olympiques)
Boca Juniors vs. River Plate (Super Clasico)
Steaua Bucharest vs. Dinamo Bucharest (Eternal Derby)
Al-Ittihad vs. Al-Hilal (Saudi El Clasico)
Napoli vs. AS Roma (Derby del Sole)
Corinthians vs. Palmeiras (Paulista Derby)
Ajax vs. PSV Eindhoven (De Topper)
Raja Casablanca vs. Wydad Casablanca (Casablanca Derby)
Real Sociedad vs. Athletic Bilbao (Basque Derby)
Bayern München vs. Nürnberg (Bavarian Derby)
Al-Zawra'a SC vs. Al-Quwa Al-Jawiya (The Classic of Baghdad)
Vålerenga Fotball Vs. Lyn Fotball (Battle of Oslo)
Sporting Lisbon vs. Benfica (Derby de Lisboa)
LA Galaxy vs. San Jose Earthquakes (California Clásico)
C.D. Tenerife vs. UD Las Palmas (Canary Islands Derby)
Maccabi Tel Aviv vs. Hapoel Tel Aviv (Tel Aviv Derby)