Sports can sometimes be a matter of life and death, and in many parts of the world, sports can be bigger and more important than religious institutions. Even in deeply religious areas like South America, football is treated as equally important, especially around the time of the World Cup. Certainly, this was the case for Andres Escobar, a Colombian defender who played for Atletico Nacional and the Colombian national team from the late 80s.
In 1994, Escobar was named to the Colombian national team for the World Cup. In the countries second game of the World Cup, they faced the hosts in a decisive fixture. Colombia lost its first game to Romania, while the United States drew 1-all with Switzerland. 35 minutes into the match, Escobar slid the ball past his keeper and into the back of the Colombian net. Colombia would go on to lose the match 2-1, making their own goal decisive. On July 1st, 1994, after Escobar returned to Colombia he was shot after a night out. The attacker shot Escobar six times and reportedly yelled “Goal” after every shot.
Fenerbahce and Galatasaray
Football in Turkey is also a serious matter, with Fenerbache and Galatasaray making the biggest derby in football. The rivalry between the two countries is called the Intercontinental Derby or the Eternal Rivalry as they represent two different halves of the Turkish capital of Istanbul. The rivalry routinely results in patriots and hooliganism amongst fans of both sides. Unsurprisingly, tiles between the clubs have usually been incredibly heated, with riots between fans dating back to the 1930s. In 1934, the two met in a friendly match with several unfriendly and unsavory fouls resulting in tensions boiling over on the pitch and in the stands. In 2013, riots between fans saw Burak Yildirim stabbed to death by Galatasaray fans following Fenerbache’s 2-1 win over their rivals. While the death was unusual, riots and violence between fans of both clubs are not out of the ordinary.
Carlton and Collingwood
In Australia, sports are incredibly tribal and very much divide fans by clubs and code. While New South Wales mainly follows Rugby League, especially around the city of Sydney, Victoria and many other states follow Australian Rules Football, or Footy as many of its fans refer to it by. The league was first started in 1897 in Victoria but spread across the nation in the late 80s. Many of the first football clubs, such as Collingwood, Essendon, Geelong, Melbourne, and Carlton still exist today. Meanwhile, fellow foundation clubs Fitzroy and South Melbourne merged with new clubs and moved to new homes such as Brisbane and Sydney. While there are several local derby’s in AFL, including the Showdown, the Q-Clash, and the Western Derby. However, these games don’t have the history that Carlton and Collingwood have. While the rivalry reached its peak in the 70s, tensions between fans resurfaced in 2019 as brawls broke out between fans of both clubs in 2019. Three of the participants in the brawl were arrested and four have received 5-year bans from attending football at any venue around the country. The teams have also squared off in brawls numerous times on the field with the tension between players often boiling over in matches.
AC Milan and Inter Milan
The Derby Della Madonnina has spanned for over 100 years with the first meeting between the two clubs dating back to 1909. Ac Milan is the older of the two clubs, after being first established in 1899 before a split in the club saw the creation of Internazionale in 1908. The cross-town rivals have shared the San Siro, or Giuseppe Meazza, Stadium since the early 20th century. In general, the tension between the two teams has remained peaceful, despite both the clubs being positioned at the top of Italian football.
That isn’t to say that there haven’t been incidents at matches between the clubs. During the 2004-2005 Champions League Quarter Finals, AC Milan won the first leg 2-0 and was leading the second leg 1-0 in the 72nd minute. Flares were thrown from the Inter fan section, one of which hit Milan’s goalkeeper Dida. As a result, the game was called off and AC Milan was awarded the victory. Inter was also penalized by UEFA by playing their next four European matches behind closed doors.
Tonya Harding and Nancy Kerrigan
Ice skating is not the first sport that comes to mind when many think of outrageous sports stars and violence. However, the mid-90s saw the sport being hit by the biggest controversy in the history of the sport. During the early to mid-90s, American women’s Ice Skating reached the most competitive point in its short history. The two top skaters were Tonya Harding, the second female skater to land a triple Axel, and Nancy Kerrigan, an up-and-coming skater and one of Harding’s main rivals in America.
In 1994, at the US Figure Skating Championships, Nancy Kerrigan was assaulted and injured. Kerrigan recovered in time to still make the team alongside Tonya Harding. A week after the attack, Shane Stant and Derrick Smith were arrested and named Tonya Harding and her ex-husband Jeff Gillooly as planning the attack and hiring Stand and Smith. Despite Harding stringently denying accusations that she knew or was involved in the attack, she eventually pleaded guilty to conspiracy to hinder the prosecution and knew of the plot before it took place.
Celtic and Rangers
Before Scottish giant Rangers going into insolvency, the cross-town rivalry they had with fellow Glaswegians Celtic was usually a fiery affair. While Glasgow represents the Scottish, Protestant, and Unionist part of Glasgow, Celtic is associated with the Irish, Catholic, and are supporters of the Republic of Ireland. As a result, the differences have led to heated meetings between the two clubs, which frequently required a heavy police presence to keep the fans separated.
Fueled by the numerous differences, fans of both clubs clashed frequently during matches in the 1960s and 1970s, which often led to several arrests. The worst of these clashes was during the 1980 Scottish Cup Final. Following Celtics’ 1-0 victory at the end of 120 minutes off football, fans of both teams charged onto the pitch and began a large scale brawl which saw 30 fans from either side arrested. The riots also led to a nationwide ban on the sale of alcohol at sporting events and subsequent matches were played earlier to avoid fans reaching the same levels of intoxication.
Detroit Red Wings and Colorado Avalanches
American sports are full of historic and legendary rivalries, and Ice Hockey is certainly no exception to those traditions. While the rivalry between the Red Wings and the Avalanches doesn’t have the same history as many of the other rivalries that exist in the NHL, it quickly became one of the most violent rivalries in the league from the 90s to the early 00s. A big part of the rivalry stems from a series of incidents during the Western Conference Final between the two teams in 1996.
While the 1996 series was marked by particularly nasty shots, like Red Wing’s Konstantinov’s bone-shattering check on the Avalanche’s Claude Lemieux and then Lemieux’s check on Detroit player Kris Draper. The tension between the two teams reached a boiling point again the following season. During a regular-season game between the two sides, several brawls broke out during the game and led to 18 penalties for fighting which included the goaltenders for both sides, Patrick Roy and Mike Vernon. The game is now referred to in folklore as Bloody Wednesday, with several Red Wing’s players getting revenge on Lemieux for his actions against Draper.
River Plate and Boca Juniors
Once again we cross to football, and this rivalry is based out of the Argentinian capital of Buenos Aires. The capital cities’ two biggest clubs, River Plate and Boca Juniors have often fought for the top honors in both the local league and in the continental Copa Libertadores tournament. The rivalry, given the name Superclasico, is arguably the biggest in the world of football ahead of European rivalries like the Old Firm Derby, and Spain’s El Clasico. Like many of the rivalries on this list, the divide is not just between teams but also in club cultures.
While Boca represents a working-class region of Buenos Aires, known as La Boca, River Plate is based in the richer north areas of the city and is known informally as Los Millionarios. One of the most devastating incidents in the history of Argentinian football happened at a match between the two clubs in 1958. During the match, a stampede at one of the gates in River Plate’s El Monumental stadium caused the deaths of 71 fans and left hundreds more injured. Matches between the two clubs have also caused riots between the two sets of fans, including in 2018 when River defeated Boca in the finals of the Copa Libertadores in Madrid.
New York Rangers and New York Islanders
Given how big New York City is, it’s unsurprising that it’s home to 2 American football teams, 2 baseball teams, 2 basketball teams, and 2 soccer teams. While there are natural rivalries between all these teams that split the city in two, there is perhaps no New York City rivalry more heated and violent than the rivalry between the New York Islanders and the New York Rangers. The Islanders represent Brooklyn, while the Rangers represent Manhattan.
The rivalry between the two teams dates back to the 1970s and is known in hockey circles as the Battle of New York. While the Islanders were the newer team, the New York Rangers had failed to win a championship since the 1940s and were struggling. Aside from violence on the ice, many fans accused their opponents of bullying and assault in the seats as well. Islanders fans would frequently chant “1940” at both the Rangers and their fans as a taunt. The tide changed in the mid-90s when the Rangers broke their drought and won the 1994 Stanley Cup.
Los Angeles Dodgers and San Francisco Giants
The Los Angeles Dodgers and their cross-state rivals, the San Francisco Giants have a legendary rivalry that is often overshadowed by other notable baseball rivalries. However, the tension between the Dodgers and the Giants has been around since before both teams even arrived at their respective Californian cities. In the mid 20th century, the Dodgers moved from New York to Los Angeles by their owner, Walter O’Malley. O’Malley also convinced the New York Giants owner Horace Stoneham, to move the Giants to San Francisco so the two could continue their rivalry.
Upon arrival in California, the two picked up their rivalry exactly how it had been when the two teams were based out of the same city. Given the rivalry that was already brewing between Las Angeles and San Francisco as California’s two biggest cities. In 1965, a tense game between the two resulted in a melee started by Giant’s pitcher Juan Marichal and Dodger’s catcher John Roseboro. Off the pitch, fan violence has seen a fan killed on either side in separate incidents in 2003 and 2009. Further incidents between the two teams’ fans have also taken place in 2011, with the assault on Giants fan Bryan Stow and the death of Dodger’s fan Jonathan Denver.
Liverpool and Manchester United
Usually, sporting rivalries are between teams that represent the same city, or teams that are divided by socio-economic and political status. That isn’t the case with the heated rivalry between Liverpool and Manchester United. Even though both teams share a home city with another club, Everton and Manchester City, and both represent north-English working-class cities. However, Liverpool and Manchester remain to be one of the most heated rivalries in the English Premier League to date.
Games between Liverpool and Manchester United have frequently been marked by fan hooliganism between the fan bases of the two clubs. Liverpool fans have made references to the disastrous Munich Air disaster, which United fans have mocked the Hillsborough disaster. Following the two clubs match up in the knockout stages of the Europa league in 2016, fans clashed after clashes between fans.
Australia and England
Cricket is widely considered a game played by gentlemen, certainly, that’s the reputation it previously had. However, cricket is a seriously competitive sport, played across three main formats. Cricket varies from the long form of the game called a test match, which can be played over 5 days, to a T20 match which usually lasts around 3 hours in total. Among some of the oldest cricket playing nations, England and Australia have one of the fiercest rivalries.
While modern players tend to be friends, due to the franchise cricket leagues played around the world, this wasn’t always the case. Tensions between players, especially English and Australian players usually ran incredibly high. After a touring Australian team defeated England in a series of test matches, the English media declared the result the “death of cricket” which spawned the Ashes test series. However, things got even more heated after England used bodyline tactics against Australia in the 1930s. English bowlers, under instructions from captain Douglas Jardine, intentionally targeted the body of Australia’s batsmen with fast and short pitch bowling to limit and injure Australia’s talented batters. Australian captain declared England’s tactic as disgraceful, stating that what the English were doing wasn’t cricket.
Red Star Belgrade and Partizan Belgrade
In the Serbian capital of Belgrade, the two biggest sporting clubs are Red Star Belgrade and Partizan Belgrade. When the clubs were first established, Partizan Belgrade was supported by members of the Yugoslav People’s Army, while Red Star was supported by the Yugoslav citizenry. Games between the two teams are referred to as the Belgrade Derby or the Eternal Derby, though there are a few games that are played under their name. Since the creation of the Serbian SuperLiga, Partizan and Red Star are the only teams that have finished first.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, given the intense nature of hooliganism in European football, the Eternal Derby has often led to riots and violence between supporters. In 2015, a game between the two teams was delayed for 45 minutes due to riots between opposing fans. In 2013, police arrested over 100 fans during the local derby where fans burned the stadium’s seating. In 2017, 20 people were injured after more violence again marred the derby.
Indiana Pacers and Detroit Pistons
While Basketball is a physical game and has many legendary rivalries, there isn’t usually much violence. That certainly isn’t the case in the history of Indiana Pacers and the Detroit Pistons. The rivalry between the two teams kicked off in 2004. The Pistons, despite being the defending champions, started the season sluggishly before their matchup against the Pacers. Meanwhile, Indiana came into the game with one of their best starts to the season.
The match itself was largely uncompetitive, with the Pacers leading the Pistons from the very start of the match. However, with less than a minute remaining in the game, the Pacer’s Ron Artest slapped the back of Piston’s Ben Wallace’s head as the latter was going for a lay-up. Wallace responded by shoving Artest causing a melee between the two teams. Despite the action calming briefly, it resumed after Wallace through a towel at Artest, restarting the scuffle. During this time, fans became involved in the action as one of them threw a cup that hit Artest. In response, Artest jumped into the crowd starting another brawl between players and fans. The entire incident is now referred to as the Malice in the Palace, after the name of the Detroit home arena where the game was played.
Zamalek SC and Al Ahly
Unbeknownst to many, the Cairo based Al Ahly is the most successful football club in the world. Known as “The Club of the Century”, they have won 41 league titles, 36 national cups, 8 African Champions league titles. Zamalek SC is Al Ahly’s biggest rival and the next most successful Egyptian club. Zamalek, which is based out of Giza also represents the greater Cairo region, and matches between the two clubs are known as the Cairo derby. The matches are not only watched closely by Egyptians, but coverage of the games extend around the Middle East and North Africa when they are played.
Given the intense rivalry between the two teams, it’s perhaps unsurprising to hear that the heightened tension has led to riots, brawls, and general violence when the two sides meet. Tensions were particularly high in the early 70s after the league was suspended due to Egypt’s involvement in the War of Attrition and the Six-Day War. Following the derby game of 1971, fan violence broke out and caused the entire season to be called off as a result of the deaths and injuries. Over the last 10 years, ties between the two sides have been decidedly one-sided with Zamalek defeating Al Ahly in 1 game since the 2009-2010 season.
Montreal Canadiens and Quebec Nordiques
Before they became the Colorado Avalanche, the team was previously based in Quebec City and called the Quebec Nordiques. The Nordiques’ biggest rival was their fellow Quebec based team the Montreal Canadiens, who are still an active franchise in the NHL. The inter-provincial rivalry was frequently referred to as the battle of Quebec, due to both teams being based out of Quebec, and the ferocity of the rivalry between the two teams.
While the rivalry began in the 1970s, it reached its heights during the 1984 playoff series. The series was the first time games between the two teams became referred to as the Battle of Quebec. On Friday, April 20th, 1984, the two teams faced off in the 6th game of the series with the Montreal Canadiens leading the series 3 to 2. Late in the second period, with the Nordiques leading 1-0 a brawl broke out that cleared both benches. When the teams returned for the third period, the brawl picked up where they had left it at the end of the second period. This second brawl saw several Canadiens players targeting Nordiques’ winger Louis Sleigher, as well as a fight between brothers Dale and Mark Hunter.
West Ham United and Millwall FC
Several teams represent the city of London, 5 teams currently in the Premier league are based out of the city with a further 5 in the Championship. While many of these teams constantly strive to be the best club in London, several London teams have more intense rivalries than others. Arsenal and Tottenham will frequently compete for the title of the best club in Northern London. However, the derby between smaller clubs Millwall and West Ham is known as the East London Derby or the Dockers Derby.
Today, Millwall is currently in the Championship while West Ham is in the Premier League. However, when both clubs occupied the same league, especially in the 80s and 90s, the matches between them were often hostile, tense, and violent. One of the matchups was particularly memorable for Millwall fans after their team upset West Ham 4-1. The aftermath saw violence break out between the two sets of fans. Violence also broke out after the two sides met in the second round of the 2009-2010 Carling Cup. According to reports following the game, violence left many fans injured with at least one fan being stabbed in the chest.
Boston Red Sox and New York Yankees
The Boston Red Sox and the New York Yankees have one of the most iconic rivalries in sports, even without qualifying it’s sometimes violent nature. A lot of the tension between the two teams, outside of the natural rivalry between two cities that are drenched in historical importance, is undoubtedly the infamous Curse of the Great Bambino. While both teams first met in the early 20th century, things kicked off after the Red Sox sold Babe Ruth to the New York Yankees in 1919. Following the trade, the Boston Red Sox would go on an 86-year Championship drought that was eventually ended in 2004.
While there have been several violent outbreaks between players throughout the rivalry, some of the fan violence has been even stranger. In 2008 a man driving with New York plates on his car was assaulted in Massachusetts because locals suspected he might have been a Yankees fan. Then, in 2010 a Yankees fan was arrested by Boston police after stabbing a Red Sox fan following an argument between the two over the rivalry.
Hapoel Tel Aviv and Maccabi Tel Aviv
Tel Aviv is one of the biggest cities in Israel and is usually mistaken for being the nation’s capital. The city is also home to many football clubs, the biggest of which are Maccabi Tel Aviv and Hapoel Tel Aviv, and like many footballing rivalries, the clubs are split on both sporting and political grounds. While Maccabi Tel Aviv is the most popular team in Israel, Hapoel has always been more identified as the club of the left.
Games between the two teams are referred to as the Tel Aviv Derby, or at least the big Tel Aviv derby. During a match in November 2014, Maccabi striker Eran Zahavi scored a penalty to tie the game at 1-1 and taunted the Hapoel fans with his celebration. A few minutes later, a fan from the Hapoel section climbed out of the stands and attacked Zahavi in retaliation. The man was eventually arrested but fans from both sides would begin to invade the pitch forcing the match to be called off. The incident brought international attention to the Israeli league and the rivalry.
Pittsburgh Steelers and Cleveland Browns
The NFL has many legendary rivalries, from divisional rivalries to conference rivalries to inter-conference rivalries. Only the rivalry between the Cleveland Browns and the Pittsburgh Steelers has been given a title. The rivalry between the two teams is often referred to as the Turnpike Rivalry, due to the turnpikes that connect the states of Ohio and Pennsylvania respectively, Despite the Brown’s early dominance, the Steelers hold a commanding overall record between the two teams, and an even more commanding lead since the Browns returned to the NFL in 1999.
While there have been tensions and violence between the two teams in previous meetings, the tension between the two teams has seemingly escalated in recent years. In 2019, their regular-season match was marked by an ugly incident between Brown’s Defensive End Myles Garrett and Steelers Quarterback Mason Rudolph. After the end of the play, Garrett removed Rudolph’s helmet and attempted to hit him with it. Players from both sides joined in the fight before it was broken up. Garrett, Maurkice Pouncey, and Larry Ogunjobi were ejected from the game and after the game, Garrett was suspended for the remainder of the 2019 season.
Flamengo and Vasco de Gama
In Brasil, just like in Argentina and many other South American countries, football is more than a sport and for many, it’s more important than religion. The Brazilian national team, or the Selecao, frequently carries the hopes of the nation at every World Cup final, winning a record 5 times. The local Brazilian Serie A league is also a massively popular sport with Flamengo and Vasco de Gama among the country’s two most popular teams. Both teams represent the major Brazilian city of Rio de Janeiro.
While Flamengo’s rivalry with fellow Rio club Fluminese, known as the Fla-Flu rivalry, is better known to international fans. The rivalry between Vasco de Gama and Flamengo is much more volatile and has produced significant levels of violence between fans of both clubs. In 2017, a Vasco fan was believed to be shot dead following a match against Flamengo. Then in 2019, following an intense 4-4 draw, players engaged in a melee following the final whistle after a very physical match that saw the referee hand out 11 yellow cards.
India and Pakistan
In terms of geopolitics, India and Pakistan are amongst the biggest rivals in the world. The two have several differences in religion, politics, and disputes over territory. Due to the overwhelming tension between the two countries, they seem to rarely face each other. Despite being among the top countries in the world, the two nations have had respective tours only 6 times in the last 20 years, and 8 tours in the last 30. While this was largely due to Pakistan receiving a 10-year ban from hosting matches in Pakistan in 2009, the two are still reluctant to play each other due to tension between the two countries.
In 1999, the two teams faced off against each other in the first match of the Asian Test Championships in India. The first match of the series was held in front of a packed Eden Gardens stadium in Calcutta. In the second innings, Indian fans believed that Pakistani fast bowler Shoaib Akhtar was impeding Sachin Tendulkar which led to the Indian batter being run out. Following the wicket, fans in the stand began rioting which resulted in them being expelled from the ground. The game was finished in front of a near-empty arena with Pakistan eventually emerging victorious by 46 runs.
Netherlands and Germany
Both the Netherlands and Germany are amongst the top European countries in football. From 1960 to the 1990s, Germany was represented by both East and West Germany in international football during that time they won 3 World Cups. In the 1970s, the Dutch developed a new tactical system called Total Football which revolutionized the sport. The rivalry peaked in the 1980s, with the Dutch team knocking out Germany in the 1988 Euro semi-finals.
The rivalry has seen its fair share of intense moments, including their round of 16 matches meeting in the 1990 World Cup. During the match, tensions got so heated that Holland’s Frank Rijkaard spat at West Germany’s Rudi Voller. That was nothing on the on-field violence that marred their group stage match in the 1980 European Championships. During the game, German goalkeeper Toni Schumacher and Dutch midfielder Huub Stevens got into a fight and Dutch forward Rene van de Kerkhof punched German midfielder Bernd Schuster in the eye. Despite the violence, not a single player was sent off in the game with only Steevens and Schuster receiving yellow cards.
Montreal Canadiens and Boston Bruins
When the NHL was first established in the early 20th century the league consisted of six teams. The Original Six, as they became known, were the Canadian teams from Montreal and Toronto, joined by American teams Boston, Chicago, Detroit, and New York Rangers. All six teams still exist in both their original city and under their original franchises. Between all six, Montreal Canadiens and Boston Bruins have the most heated rivalry. The rivalry between the two teams dates back to the earliest days of the NHL, with the Bruins becoming the first American based team to join the league in 1924.
Though, the rivalry picked up in the 1950s through various incidents. One of the worst incidents between the teams occurred in the mid-50s when Hal Laycoe hit Maurice Richard high with his stick causing Richards to get numerous stitches in his head. Richard retaliated by hitting Laycoe back with his stick and both players brawled on the ice, he also attacked linesman Chris Thompson, punching him in the head and knocking him out. Following the game, the Boston police tried to arrest Richard for assault, but his teammates prevented the arrest by barricading the door. Richard would be suspended for the rest of the season causing riots and death threats by Canadiens fans.
Zrinjski and Velez
Zrinjski and Velez are two football clubs that represent the city of Mostar in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Mostar has almost a 50/50 split in religious beliefs and ethnicities, with an equal division between Croats and Muslim Bosniaks. As a result, both Velez and Zrinjski have close ties to their ethnic support base with Velez supported by Bosniaks, while Zrinjski is more popular with ethnic Croats. The religious and ethnic divide in the city, and between the two fan bases have created an intense rivalry between the two clubs, similar to the Old Firm derby in Scotland.
As a result, the Mostar Derby has been known for its violence and tension between the two clubs. In 2011, the two teams met in the national cup at the round of 16, with Velez winning one-nil with a late decisive goal. Following the goal, Zrinjski fans stormed onto the pitch to riot and confront opposition players. Zrinjski fans became throwing objects onto the pitch, causing the players to retreat to avoid getting injured. The match was subsequently abandoned with the national football authority awarding the game 3-0 to Velez.
Sydney Roosters and Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs
While Rugby Union is a sport that has been picked up around the world, Rugby League is popular in certain parts of Australia, England, New Zealand, and around the pacific islands, with the strongest league residing in Australia. The highest level of Rugby League in the NRL which includes teams in Australia and New Zealand, including several teams based out of Sydney. Alongside several other teams based out of the city, Sydney Roosters and Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs have one of the fiercest rivalries in the league.
In 2004, a one-sided game between the two sides saw brawling break out amongst fans in the stands. According to reports following the game, 2 police officers were injured after several fights broke out between different sets of fans. The play was also stopped temporarily as angry fans threw bottles onto the field. Fighting also broke out during a closely fought game in 2017, with up to 50 fans starting a brawl in the stands during the game.
Wisla Krakow and Cracovia
The Polish city of Krakow is bitterly divided by two football clubs, Wisla Krakow and Cracovia. Both clubs date back to the early 20th century, with Wisla holding an edge over their rivals in overall wins. Wisla also has the Championship advantage over their cross-town rivals, having won the league 13 times, to Cracovia’s 5 League titles. This has been exacerbated recently with Wisla winning 7 titles in the last 20 years, while Cracovia’s last title came back in 1948.
The rivalry between the two teams isn’t just historic but also heated with a history of violence. During a derby game in 1942, Wisla players attacked the referee after he awarded Cracovia a penalty in stoppage time. In 2006, 8 fans died in the lead up to the derby match for that year which was supposed to mark the 100th anniversary of the first derby back in 1906. During the game itself, riots broke out with Cracovia fans clashing violently with local police during the game.
Australia and South Africa
Australia and South Africa are both similar in their approach to sports, both consider their national teams a matter of pride and both compete against each other at the top level in both Rugby and Cricket. While there have been several violent moments in rugby matches, most of these are part of the game as a whole. Violence and tension between cricketers are rarer but have happened in the intense rivalry between Australia and South Africa.
While the two teams have both got legendary performances against each other, such as Australia’s incredible tie in the 1999 World Cup Semi-Final or South Africa’s record-breaking 438 run chase in Johannesburg. However, tensions spilled over into a physical confrontation during Australia’s tour of South Africa in 2018. Following a tense session Australian opener David Warner and South Africa’s Quinton de Kock were caught on CCTV getting into a small scuffle in the stadium as the teams came off the ground for a break in play. Australia would go on to win the first test but ultimately lose the series 3-1.
Olympiacos and Panathinaikos
You know a rivalry is intense when it has the name, “Derby of the eternal rivals” and the Mother of All Battles. Those are the Greek names for the rivalry between Athens based clubs Olympiacos and Panathinaikos whenever their football or basketball teams meet. Much like Argentina’s Superclasico, the division between the two clubs stems from different classes. Panathinaikos was founded and represented the wealthier class of Athenians, while Olympiacos draws support from historically more working-class areas of the city.
On top of the tension between the two clubs, four matches between them have been called off due to fan violence, once in the 1970s, and twice between 2011-2016. As a result, Olympiacos were awarded the victories in each of the games with Panathinaikos docked points. During their derby in 2015, several Panathinaikos fans jumped onto the pitch with sticks and began fighting with police. That is not to say that Olympiacos fans are not without fault having attacked Panathinaikos’ Djibril Cisse during their match in the 2010/2011 season.
Philadelphia Flyers and New York Rangers
The Flyers and the Rangers rivalry connects to a larger rivalry between the cities of New York and Philadelphia. Due to their proximity to each other, many of the city’s sports teams have intense rivalries, such as Eagles-Giants in the NFL, Mets-Phillies in the MLB, and the Knicks-76ers rivalry in the NBA. The rivalry seemed to intensify in the late 1970s after Flyers coach Fred Shero submitted his resignation in an attempt to accept a job coaching for the Rangers.
In 2014, both teams faced off against each other in the first round of the Eastern Conference finals. The Rangers headed into game 6 at Flyers home rink, leading 3 games to 2, knowing that a win would see them advance. While the Flyers dominated on the ice, winning the game 5-2 and sending it to a seventh game, fans from both sides began brawling in the stands. Footage from other fans’ mobile phones emerged on the internet showing two sets of fans throwing repeated punches at each other in the stands during the game. The fans were eventually escorted out of the arena by security
Ajax Amsterdam and Feyenoord Rotterdam
Ajax Amsterdam and Feyenoord Rotterdam represent two of Holland’s largest cities, and the cities’ rivalry has been adopted by the two largest dutch teams that represent each one. The rivalry dates back to the first meetings between the clubs in 1921, which was plunged into controversy. While the match initially ended with Ajax winning 3-2, one of Ajax’s goals was later scrubbed after protests from Feyenoord. The rivalry seemed to intensify during the 1970s as both clubs rose to be amongst the best in the world. At the time, the Dutch had created the Total Football tactic system that was allowing them to dominate.
Violence between the sides saw violent clashes through the years, with one of the worst events coming during a clash of their fans. Called the Battle of Beverwijk, saw Ajax’s F-Side face off against Feyenoord’s SCF Hooligans. During the fighting, a member of Ajax’s fanbase, Carlo Picornie, was stabbed several times and bled to death and more were injured. In 2004, Ajax hooligans attacked Feyenoord players Jorge Acuna and Dutch great Robin van Persie. The rivalry between the two sides is referred to as De Klassieker, similar to the German derby Der Klassiker between Borussia Dortmund and Bayern Munich as well as the El Classico in Spain and the SuperClasico in Argentina.