Posts tagged Football

West Yorkshire Police horses outside Leeds train station ahead of Leeds vs Millwall

Arrests and policing on the decline at Leeds United

West Yorkshire Police horses outside Leeds train station ahead of Leeds vs Millwall

West Yorkshire Police horses outside Leeds train station ahead of Leeds vs Millwall

Arrests made at Elland Road on match days are set to decline for the second season running, with the cost of policing also set to decrease.

Just 61 arrests were recorded at Elland Road last season. Significantly lower than the 2012/13 season where 104 fans were detained over the year.

The cost of policing at Elland Road has also decreased over the previous four years. The 2011/12 season saw Leeds United pay West Yorkshire Police £1,062,700 in comparison to the £209,600 this season, with just seven home fixtures remaining.

The West Yorkshire side argued that policing the streets and car parks is in fact the force’s responsibility as opposed to the Championship club.

In 2014, Leeds United claimed that the West Yorkshire Police still owed the club £800,000 for overcharging policing at home games.

“There’s always a high number of police officers and private security at our home matches,” said season ticket holder, Luke Wroe. “Most fans just want to come and watch the side play, without looking to cause trouble. If anything, it’s the police that are more likely to provoke us than the away contingent.”

Earlier in the month, Millwall fans travelled to Elland Road for the fixture against Leeds United, which passed without any major trouble.

Leeds United fans have argued they are always singled out by police and opposing fans as the bad boys of football, wherever they watch football.

“West Yorkshire Police have got it all wrong,” said Matty Gavan. “Fair enough, there are always a minority of fans that do look to cause trouble, but every club has that. It feels as though the police and the Football League are using Leeds United as a scapegoat.”

Leeds vs Millwall has always been known as the fixture that is liklely to cause the most disruption on matchdays. As a result, West Yorkshire Police placed a restriction on the amount of away fans they could let into Elland Road, offering just 200 tickets to Millwall FC, of which 60 fans turned up.

Sven the Oracle posted a message on Telegraph’s website: “Millwall have been causing trouble for decades. Any restrictions they have placed on them have only themselves to blame for.”

The measures that were put in place meant that visiting Millwall fans had to report to a service station on the motorway, whilst being filmed by police.

“Millwall have caused a lot of trouble in the past,” added Leeds United fan, Gavan. “If I was a Millwall fan, I’d have been livid at the ticket allocation we were given.

“Yes, they are troublemakers. However, to make them have to pick up their tickets from a service station is ludicrous.

“What about those fans that wanted to take the train up? Or maybe the ones that don’t live in London but wanted to watch the game. I think that West Yorkshire Police definitely ruined this fixture.”

In an outburst after Millwall’s 1-0 defeat to Leeds, Ian Holloway told reporters: “It’s only when we play Leeds, we don’t get it anywhere else. It’s not an issue anywhere else.

“I don’t get it. Years ago it was fashionable to do certain things, but we’ve moved on. For me, West Yorkshire Police, get off your arse and don’t treat our supporters differently to anyone else.”

Pre-match atmosphere from the away end. (Picture Courtesy of Brian Shotton)

1. FC Köln ban hooligan fan group following violence against Borussia Mönchengladbach


Bundesliga side 1. FC Köln have taken drastic measures after fans lit flares and stormed the pitch following the final whistle of the Rhein Derby against Borussia Mönchengladbach. 

Pre-match atmosphere from the away end. (Picture Courtesy of Brian Shotton)

Pre-match atmosphere from the away end. (Picture Courtesy of Brian Shotton)

The “30 white-clad anarchists”, as Bild called them, were unauthorised pitch invaders who had scaled the 10-foot high barrier out of the visitors’ section, and onto the pitch, before riot police moved in – which resulted in one officer being injured.

In a statement released by the club on Monday morning, Köln announced that they had revoked the fan-club status of ‘boyz’, and are in the process of banning 40-known offenders from the home game against Hannover 96 at the weekend.

Lifelong Köln fan, Randall Hauk told RivalTalk in an exclusive interview: “Their actions hurt me more than did the Branimir Hrgota dive, the Granit Xhaka game-winner, or anything else. It was a huge dampener on Karneval weekend.”

The German club published photographs asking for help to identify the perpetrators, which saw a quick response from fans of the club, which boasts over 70,000 members.

“The message does need to be delivered in a dramatic way that will probably be shocking and may cause unrest among the fan groups,” said Hauk.

Köln’s reputation as a club has been tarnished as a result of the actions from the minority of supporters following the final whistle.

Hauk added: “The image of the club reaches beyond those of us who follow German football. People may not know the result of the match or even that the Mönchengladbach-Köln rivalry exists, but they’ll see those images.”

The club’s official statement read: “FC justifies its drastic measures because of repeated, intentional club-damaging behaviour from within the ranks of the Boyz.

“Leading members of the group were involved in the use of illegal pyrotechnic as well as pitch invasions after the final whistle at both the derby in Mönchengladbach as well as other mass organised events.”

The German Football Association (DFB) have also reacted on fans’ behaviour since the turn of the year. Hertha Berlin are just one from a number of clubs that have been fined due to use of pyrotechnics.

Violent scenes following the final whistle. (Video Courtesy of Football Network)

Hauk added: “Get rid of them [hooligans], and you’ve sent the right message to the DFL, which maybe helps mitigate fines in future instances, but you’ve also told the majority of the club membership and fan base that you can handle it and get back to the reason we all came in the first place: football.”

There’s no question that Köln have acted quick on the matter. Now German football followers can just hope other clubs follow suit should further incidents arise.


The Old Firm Derby: Does Scotland really need it?


Celtic and Rangers were once inseparable at the summit of Scottish football – bound together by history and passion, forming one of the world’s most brutal, intense and fiery football matches football fans have ever seen.

Rangers Football Club dropped down to Division Three in 2012. (Creative Commons)

Rangers Football Club dropped down to Division Three in 2012. (Creative Commons)

The Old Firm derby is played on the world stage – dragging in politics, religious bigotry and vocal support for paramilitary groups.

After financial troubles in 2012, Rangers’ fate was sealed when 25 out of the 30 SFL clubs voted in favour of placing the newco team in the bottom tier of Scottish football.

Three years later and Scottish football has clearly suffered. Attendances have dropped, Celtic have ran away with the league whilst Rangers have shown others how not to run a football club. Their fans are in revolt against their owners, organising boycotts and breaking into their famous Ibrox to stage protests.

The argument remains as to whether Scottish football needs Rangers back in the SPL. However, Celtic fans will argue that the Old Firm derby no longer exists, whilst Rangers fans think otherwise.

In an exclusive interview with a Celtic supporter, who wished to go by his online handle, MinceCFC said: “Rangers Football Club died, there can be no relevant argument against that fact. The club was liquidated – nothing survives liquidation.

“There is no “old firm,” that name has been considered as dead to the Celtic support (and club officials) for a good few years now. In fact, it would be safe to say that many Celtic fans now find the term “old firm” to be quite offensive.”

After three years, Celtic faced Rangers in the Scottish League Cup Semi-Final on 1 February 2015, one which turned out to be a heated affair.

Rangers fan, John McIntosh told RivalTalk: “I definitely feel the hatred is at one of its worst points ever. I think you saw from the League Cup game that it was a sell out and the passion shown by supporters’ shows the Old Firm rivalry will never go away, there was just a break.”

When negative stories about Rangers are published in the media under “Old Firm” headlines, the reputation of Celtic football club is unjustifiably smeared by an unwanted and unwelcome association.

Celtic fan, Henry Clarson said: “The more distance Celtic can place between itself and the notoriety which another Glasgow club routinely attracts, the better.”

The Old Firm derby is characterised by the historic catholic-protestant divide across Glasgow which has shaped the nature of this rivalry, and the behaviour that comes with it.

Celtic vs Rangers has always had trouble with sectarianism and violence. A catholic from Northern Ireland, Neil Lennon was forced to quit playing for the national team following death threats issued before a game. In 2003, Lennon was attacked by two students on a night out whilst a year later, he was victim of a road-rage incident and more recently, in 2008, the 43-year old was beaten unconscious.

In February 2015, a 10-year old boy was hit in the face by a bottle that was thrown at a minibus as he travelled to the Old Firm. BBC reported that a group of Celtic fans had surrounded the bus and hurled abuse and bottles at the occupants.

“I have more problems with violence related to the Old Firm derby which is generally after the game,” said John. “I feel that some journalists should be highlighting such violent events far more than castigating supporters for some bad singing to fit in with their agenda.”

Henry stopped going to Old Firm matches before Rangers went into liquidation: “The atmosphere was simply barbaric and I saw no point in subjection myself to such a poisonous experience.”

As to whether Scottish football needs the derby, MinceCFC added: “The SPL absolutely does not need the Celtic vs Sevco derby. What might look like an impressive atmosphere to an outsider is actually a festival of total hatred, thinly protected from an all out war by a line of policemen.

“What you don’t see in Glasgow and many other areas of Scotland are virtual war zones for the weekend of any fixture between the two clubs. How many deaths can be directly attributed to the fixture? A lot more than you realise, not to mention the many serious assaults, vandalism and general badness.”

Rangers fan, Jamie Currie said: “If the club and police ask you to stop singing certain songs inside a football ground, then you have to put the club first. However, I’m not really sure the police know which songs are sectarian and which are not.”

The Old Firm has always been an eagerly anticipated clash. (Creative Commons)

The Old Firm has always been an eagerly anticipated clash. (Creative Commons)

The Old Firm may not boast superstar names like the El Clasico and a Manchester Derby, but it offers just as much hatred and is as fiery as the North London Derby and Manchester Derby.

“Scottish football does need the Old Firm in the same way that English football needs Manchester vs Liverpool or La Liga needs Barcelona and Real Madrid,” Jamie added.

“The hatred has always been there, but in terms of the ‘new club’ debate, it does add to the hatred in some respects.”

Clear that the hatred is still there and always will be. John added: “Celtic fans will always argue that Rangers are no more, contrary to Lords of law, UEFA, FIFA, SFA, SPFL, ASA, ECA and the BBC Trust.

Henry argued that: “In order to sell itself and create interest, the SPFL needs the presence of a financially doped club running on an unsustainable budget until it destroys itself then it should shut up shop.”

They’ll always be a debate in Scottish football as to whether Rangers did die. Rangers fans will insist that they operate no different, their tradition and history are still there, and they are the same team.

SL Benfica were the host of the Lisbon Derby in April 2013. (Creative Commons)

Derby de Lisboa: The derby that forces Lisbon to a standstill


A derby which offers choreographies, pyrotechnics and intense atmosphere, welcome to the Derby de Lisboa, between Sporting Clube de Portugal and Sport Lisboa e Benfica.

SL Benfica were the host of the Lisbon Derby in April 2013. (Creative Commons)

SL Benfica were the host of the Lisbon Derby in April 2013. (Creative Commons)

There may be just three kilometres between Sporting CP’s Estadio de Alvalade and SL Benfica’s Estadio da Luz, but the Primeira Liga is closer than ever this season.

“The passion is intense and can boil over at times,” said Tom Kundert, namely when Sporting fans set Benfica’s stadium on fire in 2011: “and of course the ultras often go over the limits. Nevertheless, violence is not usually associated with the fixtures.”

Sunday’s Derby de Lisboa is the 294th meeting between the two sides, and with just seven points separating Benfica in first, and Sporting in third, the race for the title is as close as ever.

“Benfica aren’t as strong as they have been in the last few seasons after their crippling debts forced them to sell half their first team in the summer,” Kundert added. “Coach Jorge Jesus has done a fantastic job keeping them ticking along without much of a blip, at least domestically.”

“The Os Três Grandes is so much bigger than the other teams in the Liga, so whenever they face each other they much be on their absolute best to succeed,” said Portuguese football expert, Jan Hagen. “This is what makes this match so intense.”

Sporting’s last league title came over a decade ago, winning the Primeira Liga in the 2001-02 season. Whilst Benfica have won the league three times since Sporting last secured a Championship.

Benfica have also had the better of the derby meetings down the years, winning 128 of them, whilst also having more title wins than their counterparts.

Having formed in 1904 by two smaller clubs, one with an Eagle badge, and the other with a pitch, Benfica was then born. The club, then led by club captain, Anglophile Cosme Damiao insisted that only Portuguese players featured for the Eagles.

Half the members left two years later to form the club, Sporting, under a local landowner, Viscount of Alvalade.

A rivalry was then born in 1907, Sporting had eight former Benfica players in their squad, beating their rivals 2-1 on a rainy day in Lisbon. A year later, Sporting won yet again, only this game had an atmosphere with violence and intimidation.

After losing 1-0 away to their rivals, Benfica in 2011, the Sporting Ultras, Juventude Leonina 1976 set fire to the Estadio da Luz, taking their loss to the next extreme.

Sporting CP’s Ultra Juventude Leonina 1976. (via

Eric Drier, now of Tottenham Hotspur once told Standard Sport: “It’s just incredibly hostile. The fans are very close to the pitch, like in England, and there is a lot of hatred between the sets of fans.”

The Juventude Leonina 1976 are the oldest fan club of Sporting Clube de Portugal, founded in 1976. The Sporting ultras are also the oldest, official fan club in Portugal.

JuveLeo76: “is a family that is united by one love,” said Ana Margarida. Located in the south stand, JuveLeo76 can be found with choreographies and often colourful pyrotechnics leading up to the kick-off, and Sunday’s derby will be no different.

via @Ultra Juventude Leonina 1976


Francesco Totti celebrates scoring equaliser with a selfie

Francesco Totti takes Selfie in front of Roma Ultras (Reuters)

Francesco Totti takes Selfie in front of Roma Ultras (Reuters)

Italian Gladiator Francesco Totti celebrated his equalising brace by taking a selfie with Roma’s Curva Sud in the Derby della Capitale.

After going two goals down after half-an-hour to Stefano Mauri and Felipe Anderson, Totti turned the game around just after the break before smashing home an equaliser after 64 minutes.

The 38-year old will go beside the names of Alessandro Del Piero and Roberto Baggio in the Serie A record books when the veteran retires from football.

“Footballers often get criticised for taking selfies on the pitch,” said Roma follower, Josh Lawless. “Personally, I thought it was excellent. I would have probably done the same thing.

“To score an equaliser against your nemesis, I think Totti has the right to go a little crazy. I loved it.”

The question remains however – Is Totti the coolest footballer ever?

However, Totti is not the first sportsman to take a selfie. Lukas Podolski, on loan at Inter Milan from Arsenal took a selfie with Arsenal fans in the North London derby against Tottenham Hotspur.

The result means Roma remain behind Champions Juventus in second place on goal difference. A won would have taken the Giallorossi above the Turin club.

Totti made his debut for Roma in 1992, having been at the club from the start of his professional career in 1989. The talisman has found the back of the net on 239 occasions in 573 games for Roma.

The Italian has also played 58 games for Azzurri. Totti has 28 honours to his name, including five Italian Footballer of the Year awards.


Video via YouTube (FootballHighlights)

The game was perhaps overshadowed by what happened in Paris just a week earlier. Roma manager, Rudi Garcia placed pencils on the chair of every journalist attend the derby, prior to kick-off, as a mark of respect.

Team's shake hands ahead of the Seville Derby in 2014. (VAVEL)

Derbi Sevillano: A Tale of One City


Sevilla’s Biris Norte (Creative Commons)

Forget the El Clasico derby between two of Spain’s most successful clubs, Real Madrid and Barcelona. The fixture which offers most passion is in the south, and it never disappoints. The Derbi Sevillano is between two clubs, Sevilla Fútbol Club, S.A.D and Real Betis Balompié, S.A.D.

Real Betis supporter, Ben Hardman said: “The Madrid derby can be simmering but the Seville derby is boiling with true fanatical passion in abundance.”

The Derbi Sevillano has been described as the most intense of the city rivalries. Dating back to the early 1900’s. Both clubs started off as Seville FC in 1905 before splitting in 1914 to form Betis Football Club. Betis, then merged with another club in the area, Sevilla Balompié which created Real Betis Balompié. As many inter-city rivalries, these two teams also had a class divide. Betis were the working class whilst Sevilla supporters often had a much higher income.

The population of Seville is divided into two categories: Sevillistas (Sevilla) and Béticos (Real Betis Balompié supporters).

Real Betis’ Ultra group, Supporters Gol Sur (SGS) are notorious for their questionable attitude. In 2013, Nosa Igiebor, a midfielder for the club received racial abuse from a small section of the home fans. After scoring a last minute equaliser against Sevilla, the Nigerian aimed a middle-finger gesture towards Real Betis fans. Following the match, he tweeted: “I want to apologise to the fans for a gesture that was not aimed at them.

“I will not put up with the racial abuse I was receiving from a few mindless fans – my act was out of frustration.”

Hardman added: “Almost all Béticos disapprove of the things SGS get up to and they have been known to have been shouted down and booed by the rest of the stadium. It’s the rest of the club minus the SGS who are the true fans.”

Despite the SGS only been a small minority, Bético, Carlos Urbano added: “They show fascist symbols and reject black players, which is absurd.”

Sevilla’s Ultras are known as the Biris Norte, named after a former Gambian footballer, Biri-Biri. Although they too have had plenty of bad press over the years, they are the exact opposite in terms of political and racial views.

Team's shake hands ahead of the Seville Derby in 2014. (VAVEL)

Team’s shake hands ahead of the Seville Derby in 2014. (VAVEL)

The racial remarks weren’t the only incident to take place in the Derbi Sevillano. During a match in 2002 played at Sevilla’s Ramón Sánchez Pizjuán, a supporter ran on to the pitch and attacked then Betis goalkeeper, Antoni Prats. Despite emerging unharmed from the incident, the city’s image did not. Sevilla fans can often be heard chanting: “Sevilla arriba, comiendo chucherías! Betis abajo, comiendo escarabajos y escupitajos!” (Sevilla on top, eating sweets! Betis on the bottom, eating beetles and gobs of spit!).

In retaliation to the incident involving a Sevilla fan and Prats, during a Copa del Rey tie in 2007, Sevilla manager Juande Ramos was struck with a water bottle from opposing fans – causing the quarter-final tie to be postponed. Journalist, Sid Lowe stated that this was ‘not an isolated incident’.

Following the postponement, the Betis president, José Leon made his way to the press room to read out a statement: “The board of directors, the coaching staff and players of Real Betis Balompié,” he announced, “wish to express their sadness at the one-off isolated incident that has brought about the suspension of this Copa del Rey quarter-final,” to which Lowe disagreed.

The bottle had knocked the Sevilla manager unconscious, in what was a premeditated attack. Lowe described the incident: “Ramos was the only person who staggered onto the pitch, collapsed into a heap, lost consciousness and was forced to spend the night in hospital.”

However, like many derbies, it wasn’t the only attack during that game. Missiles were thrown at players in the same match, as well as managers, linesmen and referees and still nothing gets done. The fines dished out are pathetic, culprits are left unidentified and therefore cannot be banned from grounds. The very same game, Dani Alves had already been hit with another bottle and Sevilla president, Jose Maria Del Nido had been hit on the nose with a coin whilst taking his seat in the director’s box.

“Politics and sport must be separated. It would be better for everyone,” said Urbano. “Police escort fans to the rival stadium, so they can’t face each other before or after the match. Their job has improved a lot.”

The build-up on matchdays, whilst intimidating, usually pass without any major interruptions. Sevilla supporter, Ryan Benson said: “This is a pure local derby and it’s all about bragging rights. The city comes to a standstill during the match.

“Although the crowds around the stadium before kick-off (particularly at Sevilla) are quite intimidating, they’re equally worth experiencing.”

Following the passing of Sevilla defender, Antonio Puerta in 2007, the city united as one and showed the footballing world that it wasn’t all violence. Both clubs have strong family connections and often joke around with each other until the next derby. Fans of clubs would often sign up their unborn children for club memberships and taxi drivers who support one team have often refused fares that require them to drive them to the other club’s stadium. When primary school kids play football during their lunch hour, they would split their teams to who support Sevilla and Real Betis.

Urbano said: “Despite the hate and rage they feel for the rival, it end with jokes most of the time.”

Video via YouTube (Manuel Lopez Garcia)

Neither side have dominated La Liga in the past decade however, both sides do have major trophies to their name. Sevilla last won the league in the 1950’s whilst they won the Copa del Rey in the 2009-10 season. Real Betis on the other hand only have one La Liga triumph to their name. However, Betis were a dominant club in their early formation, and have since pushed for a place in European until their downfall in the previous decade. Sevilla have also enjoyed success in the Europa League of late, winning it in 2006, 2007 and 2014. Last season they played Real Betis in the last-16 on their run to the final. Having gone 2-0 down in the first leg, Los Rojiblancos pulled it back to 2-2 on aggregate in the second, taking the tie to penalties. Ivan Rakitic stepped up to take the penalty for Sevilla, meaning Nono had to score to keep Betis in the tie. It was however heartache for the Betis supporters as they saw their team crash out of the Europa League. The poor season also continued for Betis as they were relegated from the Spanish top flight.

Rolando Aarons has netted two goals this season.

Rolando Aarons ruled out of the Tyne-Wear Derby

Rolando Aarons has netted two goals this season.

Rolando Aarons has netted two goals this season.

Newcastle United have been dealt a huge injury blow ahead of the Tyne-Wear Derby match against Sunderland.

Newcastle United have been dealt a huge injury blow ahead of the Tyne-Wear Derby match against Sunderland.

Rolando Aarons has suffered an injury setback that will see the youngster miss tomorrow’s Capital One Cup quarter-final tie against Tottenham Hotspur and Sunday’s derby against Sunderland.

The 19-year old has been sidelined since early last month with a hamstring injury, and is yet to return to full fitness.

Newcastle United manager Alan Pardew had hoped Aarons would be back in time for the cup game tomorrow. However, the England Under-20 international is expected to miss a further two weeks.

Aarons made his way on the scene during pre-season after signing his professional contract last year.

The winger has made three started twice for the Magpies, whilst making a substitute in the Premier League on three occasions, netting against Crystal Palace and Manchester City.

More to Follow..

Sunderland fans will arrive at Newcastle Central Station. (Creative Commons)

Tyne-Wear Derby: Northumbria Police will not escort Sunderland supporters to St James Park


Police chiefs have announced plans to reduce policing in the Tyne-Wear derby between Newcastle United and Sunderland on Sunday.

Sunderland fans will arrive at Newcastle Central Station. (Creative Commons)

Sunderland fans will arrive at Newcastle Central Station. (Creative Commons)

The two sets off fans will be able to mix before the match after Northumbria Police have said that Sunderland supporters will not be escorted from Central Station.

The tense rivalry between the Toon army and their rivals has always meant there has been a heavy police presence when the two teams meet.

Police are encouraging Sunderland supporters to make use of the free coaches from the Stadium of Light, or to use designated trains.

Despite history between the two sets of fans, Chief Supt Neill told Chronicle Live: “My message to the fans is this – It’s your derby. These are always fantastic occasions and it’s going to be even more so this year.

“It is 21 December, people are going to be excited about Christmas, and people will be excited for the football match and I want that excitement to really come through on the day and for it to be a really positive experience for everyone, that’s the ethos of the whole operation.”

Relationships between Newcastle United and Sunderland fans seem to have improved after Sunderland supporters raised over £20,000 in memory of John Alder and Liam Sweeney, two Newcastle fans who were killed in the MH17 crash.

However, the 2013 Tyne-Wear derby will be remembered for the wrong reasons after a police horse was attacked by a Newcastle supporter when violence erupted outside St James’ Park after a defeat to their rivals, Sunderland.

“The fans want the passion of the derby but some of the things that have happened in previous years now need to be consigned to history. The disorder of 2013 reflected badly on everybody concerned,” said Chief Supt Neill.

“This is about two groups of passionate supporters coming together. Having the sheer number of such passionate football fans in such close proximity is a great thing to celebrate.”

The two sides meet on 21 December 2014 in a 1:30pm kick off.


Juventus versus Torino: The oldest derby in Italy


It may not get as much press as the Derby della Madonnina or Derby della Capitale (Rome versus Lazio), but the Derby della Mole is certainly one of the fiercest.

Granata fans ahead of tie in the Stadio Olimpico di Torino (Creative Commons)

Granata fans ahead of tie in the Stadio Olimpico di Torino (Creative Commons)

The 165th meeting between the two teams is truly a David and Goliath tie. Torino go up against Juventus on Sunday, having not won the Serie A giants in 16 occasions.

So, after all this is the oldest derby is the Serie A. Juventus first played Torino on January 13 1907, Granata’s first competitive match following their foundation the prior year. Also born the same year, was the socio-economic dimension, Torino – represented by proletariat and Juventus who are represented by bourgeoisie.

The proletariat is a term used to describe a class of wage earners, mainly industrial workers, and in this case, working in the car factories in Turin. Proletariat’s tend to earn fairly low wages and football is a way to unleash the passion. On the other hand, bourgeoisie see themselves as middle-class, typically composed of businessmen.

The question from fans around Europe ahead of the game is, “Does a derby stop being one once the rivalry becomes so one-sided that the underdog only has slim-to-no chances of winning?”

There’s no doubt that despite being in the bottom half of the Serie A, Torino will give it their all to earn bragging rights over their inter-city rivals.


The Derby della Mole is one of the most eagerly anticipated tie in Italy (Creative Commons)

“Like in a derby in any league, two teams from the same city hate each other, both teams want to be the best and some fans take their passion to extreme levels and do stupid things,” said Marco Messina, a Juventus fan living abroad.

“Torino fans feel like they truly run the city since most of the people from Torino support Torino. Whilst Juventus have a more worldwide reach and have most of their fans from other Italian regions.”

For Torino, this is the biggest match in their calendar: “The players want to give something back to the fans. Winning this for them is like winning the Scudetto,” said Messina.

The Bianconeri have been the dominant of the two teams, with Torino’s last win dating back to the 1994-95 season. Torino’s last goal against Juventus dates back to the 2001-02 season, and towards the end of the last season lost Ciro Immobile and Aleesio Cerci.

Juventus President, Andrea Agnelli famously said on Thursday said that: “Torino have not won the derby for more than 15 years.”

If there wasn’t tension before the derby, there certainly is now.

Unfortunately, Italian football is still marred by violence, with both clubs having been previously fined for vandalism and offensive chanting.

“The lack of effective leadership within the Italian Federation leads to this,” said Messina.

An incident that hit the headlines in Italy was one that happened between Inter Milan and AC Milan. Inter fans had smuggled in a moped, torched the vehicle and threw it from the upper deck to fans below. The incident has then been known as “The Holy Vespa.”

Torino have struggled of late and will do well to get any type of result at the Juventus Stadium. The visitors find themselves in 15th, having not found the back of the net in four of their previous five games.

Their counterparts however, are at the summit of the Serie A, having only lost once this season the league under Massimiliano Allegri.

River Plate vs Boca Juniors: The Superclasico

Boca Juniors banners at La Bombonera (Creative Commons)

Boca Juniors banners at La Bombonera (Creative Commons)

It is the morning before the superclasico – River Plate versus Boca Juniors, a local derby that not only dominates the calendar but is also the lifeblood of Argentine football, gripping the nation.

“The fan experience is the main reason to go to an Argentine game anyway. The quality of the football has declined but that quality on the terraces has not at all,” said BBC’s South American football expert, Tim Vickery.

“You’re probably more likely to carry away memories of the fans, the songs and the drums even more so than the memories on the field.”

In the recent past, violence has long dominated headlines in Argentina, many games pockmarked and scarred with matches often breaking out in fights.

Many of these are civil wars between rival factions of the same barra brava – who fight to control the income from ticket touting and match day parking.

Following River’s death, in 2011 as Boca fans call it; there were many fights that broke out in the neighbourhoods, glass bottles flying, smashed windows and fights leading up to the famous Monumental stadium – putting more than 25 people in hospital after clashes during the match.

Boca’s barra brava managed to smuggle their leader, Mauro Martin into the stadium despite him being banned. A monumental figure amongst the Boca support, Martin would be seen on the fence orchestrating orders both home and away.

During the build-up to kick-off, choreographies are unveiled, massive banners, confetti and balloons are released and the stadium erupts with noise.

Whilst barra bravas are at every club in Argentina, they are most prominent in both River and Boca. River’s barra bravas have close links with the national government who were at war with the powerful media group, Clarin, which saw football become just one of the battlegrounds in Argentina.

Just this week, the barra bravas of River Plate have already been in the headlines. A 100 strong mob attacked rival gang in a River Plate cafe, injuring many members of the public in an organised attack over limited tickets for the game against Boca Juniors.

“The organised fights of Barra Brava often taken place away from the ground, often near motorways. There is the lurking sense of danger at football matches in Argentina,” Joel Richards, author of Inside the Ultimate Derby.

Argentina’s most serious-related football tragedy was that at the Monumental in 1968 where 71 Boca supporters had died in a crush as fans made for the exit. To this day, nobody has yet been brought to justice for the tragedy and exactly what had happened has never been clarified.

In the next fixture between the two sides, the two sets of supporters sang the same song.

No habia puerta, no habia molinete, era la cana que pegaba con machete. There was no gate, there were no barriers, it was the police thrashing out with knives.

Between the Gate 12 tragedy and River and Boca’s barra bravas joining forces for political and financial interests in 2009, the violence in and around football in Argentina has steadily increased.

Families travelled from Europe, namely Spain and Italy to the south of Buenos Aires, settling in the dock area of La Boca. Football clubs emerged in working-class areas in the Argentine capital but a dispute between youth over who was the better team, Los Rosales or Santa Rosa,  resulted in both sides deciding to join forces, and so The River Plate was born.

Through the narrow streets of La Boca, two of the club’s founders noticed red ribbons hanging from a float claiming to carry ‘The Inhabitants from Hell’. Risking the wrath of the owners, the youth ripped the ribbons down and draped their white shirts, providing the team with a strip.

Streets away, Independencia Sur were looking for a new start, names were mentioned but owners decided that the neighbourhood should figure in the name. Days later, they had opted for Boca Juniors, and so a local rivalry was born.

“The area around Boca is characterised by lack of space, pokey little streets,” said Vickery.

“The stadium reflects that, that’s why it is called the chocolate box because it goes straight upwards, there’s no space.”

For 20 years, both clubs had battled it out for ownership of the area, and with narrow streets and little space for the two of them – it was time for River to relocate in Recoleta before moving further north to a barren area in 1938.

To this day, River find themselves situated on the edge of Belgrano and Nunez, an open space which allowed them to build the largest stadium in the country, and so the Estadio Monumental Antonio Vespucio Liberti was born, named after legendary club president, Antionio Liberti.

Argentina, known for its wine, steaks, ice cream, and of course, two of the greatest footballers to ever grace this planet, Diego Maradona and Lionel Messi.

An icon for Boca, Maradona stayed at the Argentine club for just one season before joining Barcelona, returning to La Bombonera in 1995 as a legend and a World Cup winner.

When Maradona had signed for Boca the first time round, River had softened the blow by signing Valencia’s Mario Kempes, despite being injured.

“They knew I was injured when I arrived,” said Kempes. “At Valencia they hadn’t found out what was wrong with me, and I didn’t play for six months after joining River.”

Despite missing the first superclasico, Kempes was fit for the following clash, ending in a 1-1 draw in which Maradona was the scorer for Boca.

The great Kempes once told reporters: “Central-Newell’s, in Rosario, is different,” he explained, “Because they are the two local sides they are fighting over who is the best in the city, for hegemony. In Cordoba, where I also played clasicos, it is very similar. The build-up is intense, players prepare for the game like any other but nothing gives you that buzz of a clasico.

The superclasico is different because they are not just fighting for the city, but because it is a national clasico, the whole country is involved.”

Following River’s promotion back in the top flight, the superclasico has raised in intensity levels – police on high alert during the hours of build-up to the game. Aggression, chanting, and most importantly, passion will entice viewers around the globe.

You can find RivalTalk’s full Tim Vickery interview below:

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