Football is the biggest sport on the planet, with managers, players and fans giving 100% to see their side achieve glory. It’s not surprising that some matches reach boiling point with tensions flaring and words exchanged between opposite sides. Nothing brings this passion out more than the biggest football rivalries, when the stakes are even higher than normal. Some clashes trule cross the line with cultural, social and political backgrounds all spilling over to form the most dangerous football derbies in the world. So what is football’s most dangerous rivalry?
7 most dangerous derbies in football
7. Red Star/Crvena Zvezda vs Partizan Belgrade (The Eternal Derby)
The clash between Partizan and Crvena Zvezda is one of the biggest battles in the Balkans as the two sides battle for victory in the Serbian city of Belgrade. One of the biggest political football rivalries, the derby has roots etched in politics and social culture with both sides split over different forms of communism when they were formed just after WWII. As both sides grew in stature, so did the nature of their clashes with riots and fights common each and every occasion. With both sides often competing over the SuperLiga title, there is almost always something significant on the line adding to the risk of major clashes both before, during and after the game.
6. West Ham vs Millwall (The East End Derby)
When a football rivalry is transitioned into film and TV, there must be something there to get the world’s attention. Whilst not always in the same division, the match up between West Ham and Millwall is almost guaranteed fireworks at some stage. If watching ‘Green Street’ hasn’t got you clued in, then just a flick back to previous clashes in the FA Cup or The Championship shows that there almost always guaranteed fights before or after a game. As matches between the two sides are rare, there is always added stakes when they do meet seeing tensions flare in the streets and hooliganism run rife. The most ferocious of England football derbies, this is one time where the stories reflect reality.
5. Al Ahly vs Zamalek (The Cairo Derby)
Cairo hosts two of Egypt’s most dominant sides in Zamalek and Al-Ahly so it’s not surprising that the two teams are rivals. However, this football rivalry is one steeped in mutual hatred in a fixture that has seen multiple matches abandoned due to crowd violence. There were at least two instances of this happening during the 1970s and fans have often been injured in clashes between the clubs “ultra” supporters over the years. The Egyptian FA have even had to decree special measures for the game and fly in referees for the match to ensure control and impartiality during the 90 minutes. That takes some beating.
4. Rangers vs Celtic (The Old Firm Derby)
Glasgow is a city literally split in two when it comes to footballs – you are either Rangers or Celtic. One of the biggest derbies in European football, it stems from a religious background with Celtic representing Catholics and Rangers representing Protestants. This divide has seen tensions flare on multiple occasions including the infamous Ibrox disaster in 1971 where a crush stampede between opposing fans saw 66 people killed during an Old Firm clash. A further incident in 1999 between players fighting during the Scottish Cup final shows that this is a clash that resonates with both players and fans alike. A dangerous occasion for all involved.
3. Palermo vs Catania (The Sicilian Derby)
Italy has lots of dangerous football derbies but none come close to the tensions between Palermo and Catania. Both teams are located on the island of Sicily and the island’s population are very much split between the two teams. During the mid 2000’s, the rivalry was a prominent part of Serie A and clashes were frequent between fans and police. In 2007, a police officer was killed in clashes between fans and it saw away fans banned for stadiums when both teams faced off against each other. These desperate measures have subsided slightly with both teams in different leagues but there is always something there between the two top teams on the island.
2. Galatasaray vs Fenerbahce (The Intercontinental Derby)
This is a football rivalry that literally crosses continents as the European based Galatasaray contest against the Asian-based Fenerbahce in one of European football’s fiercest contests. The two sides are traditionally the big two sides in Turkish football, meaning that fans from all over the country flock to stadiums to watch the sides do battle. It’s not uncommon to see rival fans target opposition players with unsavoury remarks related to race or politics adding tension both on and off the pitch. There have been several deaths linked to clashes between fans of the two sides meaning that everything is on the line when these two sides meet on the pitch.
1. Boca Juniors vs River Plate (The Superclasico)
Often cited as the benchmark for dangerous derbies in fooball, the battle between Boca Juniors and River Plate divides a city in two whenever they meet. The rivalry is based on social classes with Boca representing the working class and River representing the middle and upper classes within the city. With such a large divide between the classes, it has led to social tensions and anger naturally forming between the two sides. Each clash between the sides has seen fans and players fight and clash and a notable stampede in 1968 saw 71 people killed during one of these clashes. This game puts a city of 8 million people on notice and to a halt making it one of, if not, the most dangerous derby in football.
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