There some games that are heated in football, but do any of them come close to the top 10 list below. Sit back and judge for yourself.
10) Ajax v Feyenoord
The most heated fixture in Dutch football is one spurred on between class differences of two cities a mere 30 miles apart.
Amsterdam’s cosmopolitan image is reflected in Ajax’s fluent brand of football whilst near neighbours Feyenoord carry the look of its port district labour image.
Ajax and Feyenoord have dominated Dutch football alongside PSV Eindhoven, yet ‘Der Klassieker’ is by far the most fiercely contested match in the Eredivisie.
The contrast in image is illustrated by the contrasting homes of each team, with Ajax’s uber-modern Amsterdam Arena in stark contrast to the traditional and hostile atmosphere of Feyenoord’s De Kuip stadium, yet both clubs grounds have been littered with scenes of crowd trouble for years.
In 1997 an Ajax fan was killed after pre-arranged ‘battle of Beverwijk’ – an Amsterdam suburb – which led to a banning order of away fans from the fixture.
Once the ban was lifted, incidents continued to occur and in 2004 Feyenoord’s Jorge Acuna was hospitalised after being attacked by an intruding Ajax fan.
Last season the Dutch authorities agrees to once again impose an ban on visiting support but those measures are unlikely to dilute the hatred of these two sworn foe’s.
9) Roma v Lazio
The Italian capital’s two clubs not only share a city but a stadium meaning meetings between the pair become tribal, with each claiming spiritual ownership of the site.
Again, the tensions were pre-cursed by supposed divides along political and social lines with Lazio apparently the club of the social elite, whilst Roma were the team of the Romany’s.
The Derby della Capitale is notorious for being Italy’s fieriest clash with Lazio’s notorious fascist ultras regularly bearing arms to Roma’s far-right facets.
Like so many city derbies, the proximity of one another’s support lends to widespread conflict outside of the ground and the spacious nature of the Stadio Olimpico does nothing to temper tensions inside.
The first ever recorded fatality in Italian football came about thirty years ago during the Rome derby and scores of incidents since have marked this out to be one of Europe’s most fractious encounters.
During a game in 2005, Roma’s ultras forced a game to be abandoned midway through after rumour spread that police had killed a supporter and the two sets of ultras became involved in a barbarous brawl which resulted in almost 200 police officers being injured.
The Derby della Capitale remains arguably Europe’s most vicious mainstream derby.
8. Manchester United v Liverpool
These two are England’s most successful clubs and the fate of the cities football teams significantly plays its part in an inter-city rivalry which has been brooding since the Victorian industrial age. Manc’s don’t like Scousers. Scouser’s don’t like Manc’s. End of.
Both clubs claim to be the greatest English club and both have had ample opportunity to taunt the other during periods of success and failure.
Liverpool outshone United for large parts of the 70’s and 80’s much to the envy of United and United’s subsequent success during the 90’s and beyond has caused similar resentment on Merseyside.
The clashes between the pair are by far and away the most feverish of the English top flight calendar and even thought the safety and segregation of grounds limits terrace trouble, the hostilities frequently are taken out on the turf.
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7) Cracovia v Wisla Krakow – The Holy War
Polish football is in the midst of a hooliganism crisis with these two at the forefront of things.
It’s unlikely the Krakow derby is dubbed the ‘holy war’ because of Pope John Paul II’s allegiance to Cracovia. Instead, the term gives scope to what has traditionally become one of the most violent affairs on the continent.
The fixtures are regularly marked with bouts of organised and relentless pitch battles between opposing sets of fans, both inside and outside of the grounds and in recent years the Polish football authorities have had little option than to impose a blanket ban on travelling support to reduce trouble.
However, the measures have had a limited effect and unfortunately Krakow has earned the dubious nickname of the ‘city of knives’ because of the proclivity to carry blades, and since 2004 there have been over a dozen fatalities as a direct result of football related disorder.
6) Fenerbahce v Galatasaray
Turkey’s two most successful and well supported clubs are separated by the Bosphorous strait which divides Istanbul, and divide is perhaps the best term to describe these arch enemies.
Like many inter-city rivalries, there are socio-political connotations which add to the intensity of the hatred. Traditionally Fener’s fanbase is derived from the working classes whilst Gala emanate from the Istanbul bourgoise.
Both clubs relentlessly compete for the top honours in Turkey and thus the status as the nation’s number one club, and as such the fixtures make for volatile occasions both on and off the pitch.
Meetings between the duo are routinely the scene of terrace trouble and similarly to the Krakow derby, this violence has led to scores of fatalities throughout its history.
Graeme Souness hardly smoothed over relations between the two following the second leg of the Turkish cup final in 1996, whilst managing Gala. Souness celebrated lifting the cup on Fener soil by planting a massive Gala flag in the centre circle much to the ire of the furious Fener following.
Souness and his Galatasaray squad were forced to seek refuge for several hours in the bowels of Sukru Saracoglu stadium as the riot police fended off furious Fenerbahce fans.
5) Rangers v Celtic
The ‘Old Firm’ game is arguably the world’s oldest football derby with the first meeting between the two Glasgow giants taking place in 1888.
The rivalry is prominent as football’s most religiously charged encounter with the origins of the rivalry dating back hundreds of years between the divergent cultures of protestant and catholic beliefs.
The sectarian differences between the two clubs are ingrained in their history and tradition and largely splits the city of Glasgow into blue or green. Set against the backdrop of Northern Irish politics, the Old Firm games are infused with partisan chanting and hooligan confrontations which stretch further than other football feuds.
The increasing number of players playing from both clubs, with little or no ties to the city and religion, has seen on-field agitations, tapered in recent times. Little of the ill-feeling between the masses has been lost and given the sensitivity of the situation, nor will it do any time soon.
4) Red Star v Partizan Belgrade
Like many communist influenced football leagues, two of the most prominent teams have affiliations to the military and the interior ministry – themselves both opposing political influences.
Borne from the former Yugoslavia and now continuing in Serbia, Partizan were formed in 1945 as the club of the Yugoslav army whilst bitter city adversaries Red Star were set up in conjunction with the interior ministry.
Prior to the collapse of the former Soviet Union both teams had contrasting political and social ideologies which were played out on the football field.
The ongoing scenario whereby a nations two most successful, and heavily followed forces, both emanate from its capital city is in evidence once again, but what elevates the Belgrade derby in significance is a nationalistic element derived from decades of military conflict.
Red Stars ‘Heroes’ and Partizans ‘Gravediggers’ stood side by side during the Serb-Croat war at the start of the 1990’s but parted ways during the infancy of an independent Serbia and tensions have remained ever since.
The fixture has been host to several deaths, most notably in 1999 when a Partizan ultra fired a missile from a hand held rocket launcher into the Red Star end, killing one fan.
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3) Boca Juniors v River Plate
The clash between Argentine football’s two superpowers has resonance all over the world and match days are amongst some of the most choreographed and colourful on the world stage.
Again, the combination of the countries two best supported and trophy laden clubs being separated geographically by a couple of miles only fuels the tension between players and supporters.
Both clubs were originally formed from the La Boca docklands area of Buenos Aires but in 1925 River upped sticks to the more affluent district of Nunez and in doing so earned the tag of ‘Los Millionaires’ because of their perceived wealth.
Boca are said to be the club of the people and the perceived differences in culture mean differences between the opposing fan factions. Like many of the rivalries on this list, the occasion has been tinged with tragedy. In 1968, 71 Boca fans were killed and hundreds injured following a stampede caused by a fire at River’s El Monumental stadium.
The incident has further intensified relations between the clubs which ensures a turbulent atmosphere whenever the pair collides.
2) El Salvador v Honduras
The term ‘football war’ may seem like the type of hyperbole you’d read in the tabloids but in 1969 a clash between El Salvador and Honduras led to an actual military conflict between these two countries.
Tensions were already simmering between the two neighbouring Central American territories when the sides were drawn to play a qualifier for the 1970 World Cup.
The first leg in Honduras was marred between fighting between the teams supporters in the Honduran capital of Tegucigalpa. And following the game an 18-year-old El Salvadorian girl shot herself in the heart and immediately became a martyr for the El Salvador cause.
The countries president and the national football team led the cortege at her funeral before the second leg which saw even greater violence and immediately after a third game play-off played in Mexico City, El Salvador declared war on Honduras leading to a four day borderline battle which resulted in over 3000 deaths.
1) Nacional v Penarol
Uruguay has long since had a foul reputation throughout world football for their acts of petulance and aggression and that image has only been tarnished by Montevideo’s two biggest clubs.
Nacional and Penarol continue the theme of the countries two biggest clubs coming from the capital and throughout history, matches between them have been noted for extreme physical violence in all elements.
Two quite bizarre incidents set this rivalry out from the rest. A match in 1990 was abandoned after 85 minutes when 22 players – 11 from each side – were sent off after a riotous meleé kicked off on the pitch with members of each side wading in with few if any acting as peacemakers.
That incident takes some beating but somehow they managed it in November 2000. Another saloon brawl resulted in nine players and a coach being sentenced to a month in prison for their part in the action and the general consensus is that when these two meet, something similar could happen at any time. Box office.
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