The Eternal Derby (Derbiul României) is one of the most fierce rivalries in Europe – it’s Steaua Bucharest vs Dinamo Bucharest and, it’s the two biggest teams in Romania.
Different from the El Clasico (Real Madrid vs Barcelona) and AC Milan vs Inter Milan – the Eternal Derby: “Is of the biggest rivalries in the world. High level intensity, passion, emotion, colour and extreme hatred for a full 90 minutes,” said Alecsandru S, a Romanian football fan.
A Steaua Bucharest fan, who wished to remain anonymous said: “As soon as the schedule is published, every fan regardless of team looks to see when Steaua play Dinamo. I think it’s very underrated abroad.”
The rivalry originates following the end of World War II, when Romania and much of Eastern Europe turned communist. Many of the football clubs were dissolved and new, communist clubs were established. Steaua represented the Romanian Army whilst Dinamo, were represented by the Ministry of Internal Affairs.
Many army personnel became Steaua supporters, whilst police officers and other civil servants, supported Dinamo. That been said, this doesn’t seem to be the case in today’s day and age, where young people tend to pick a side and stick to it.
Communism in Romania fell in 1989 however, the rivalry was already mature and, because the two teams were backed – Steaua by dictator Nicolae Ceausescu and Dinamo receiving money from ministries – they were both giants in Romanian football.
However, Steaua were more successful in Europe, having been crowned European champions in 1986 whilst they finished runners-up three years later. Romanian football started to grow in the 90’s and 00’s both on and off the field – mainly down to the ultra groups.
Armata Ultra’s were formed on 4 December 1995 and were the second ultra group to originate from Romania, however, they were the first in Bucharest. Adopting a far-right ideology with very strict rules – the group soon reached 4,000 members.
The Armata Ultra’s dissolved in 2001 and new, smaller groups started to appear – with different ideologies. Peluza Nord have a close and friendly relationship with the Steaua players whilst on the opposite side of the stadium, you have Peluza Sud, a much smaller group, but more fanatical.
Gheorghe Mustaţă, a Steaua ultra, is currently serving seven years and five months in prison for organised crime and attempted murder.
The Peluza Sud are more often involved in clashes outside the stadium and, they also have a link with CSKA Sofia ultras – often attending fixtures. Peluza Sud are currently protesting against the aggressive security forces presence at matches and missed Steaua’s last fixture.
Video courtesy of FanSteauaTV
In 1996, Dinamo fans founded Nuova Guardia (New Guard) and just a year later, they set fire to the south stand at the Stadionul Ghencea (Steaua’s stadium). One of Dinamo’s ultras group, Peluza Catalin Haldan (PCH) – was named after the death of their captain, Catalin Haldan.
A famous match between the two sides is that of 26 June 1988, a Romanian Cup Final that ended abruptly when one of the teams stormed off the pitch and refused to continue.
Steaua were in the middle of a 60-match unbeaten run which stretched back to 1986 and included the European Cup Final win over Barcelona. The game was tied at 1-1 with a minute left to play, Steaua striker, Gavril Balint gave his side the lead just seconds from the whistle – only for it to be ruled out for offside. Distraught at the decision, the Steaua players stormed off the pitch in the direction of the club’s highest profile supporter Valentin Ceaușescu, son of dictator Ceaușescu.
The referee abandoned the match and awarded the cup to Dinamo – only for the government to intervene the following day, ruling that the goal should have stood, making Steaua the winners.
In modern history – Steaua went seven years without winning the league, to the disgust of their fans. “I remember one time in 2007, Steaua had one of their worst seasons and fans started to chant at the game before the derby: ‘If Dinamo beats us we will break your heads and smash your cars,’” recalled Alecsandru.
Steaua won the Romanian league in 2013 whilst Dinamo have endured a poor run of late, having not won the league since the 2006-07 season. However, that doesn’t take away from the fact how big the Eternal Derby is – as this season the two teams are a lot closer, with just six points separating the two.
In current times – the Steaua owner, general manager and as previously mentioned, the head of the ultras, all behind bars. Currently, the football club is being managed from jail and Becali (Steaua owner) is in permanent contact with the chairman and coach of the club.
Dinamo have also suffered a bad period of late. After fearing bankruptcy, the club was saved in the last moment – thus resulting in Dinamo currently being banned from European competitions. Also, former Dinamo boss, Cristi Borcea (Becali’s Godson) is currently serving a six years and four months jail sentence for file transfers. This is when owners of clubs would declared amounts lower than the actual transfer fees – paying the remaining money in to an offshore bank account.
Unlike most derbies, the two teams face each other tomorrow evening with just one win between the two. They have played each other 156 times in all competitions with Steaua winning 55 of those, and Dinamo winning 54, whilst drawing on 47 occasions. The two teams haven’t recorded a 0-0 draw since 15 May 1999.
The home side (Steaua) have an injury crisis coming into the derby with no serious threat in the forward position. The hosts face Dinamo on the back of a loss in the Liga I – losing 1-0 to Târgu Mureş, which was marred with violence following poor refereeing decisions. Dinamo on the other hand are enjoying mixed fortunes of late – winning three out of their previous five in the Liga I. However, unlike Steaua, they face their rivals after a 3-2 win in the league against Pandurii Târgu Jiu.