⚽ Belgrade Derby ⚽
The Belgrade Derby, also called the Eternal Derby because of the antagonism that exists between the 2 clubs of the capital: the Red Star of Belgrade and Partizan. These two Serbian clubs shared the majority of the Yugoslavian championship until its demise in the early 2000s and the Serbian and Montenegrin championship until 2006. Since then, the same dominance over domestic titles has existed in the Serbian league.
The Red Star and Partizan were founded in the same year, 1945. The Star was founded the first, on 4 March, and represents the Communist Party of Yugoslavia. Partizan, founded on 4 October, is the club of the Yugoslav People’s Army.
It is 1 March 2020, in mild weather, just a few hours away from the hottest derby in Europe. A match between Red Star Belgrade and Partizan in the Marakana stadium, at 6pm. This match, which counts as the 24th day of the championship, is broadcast in about twenty countries around the world. Foreigners from all over the world came to attend the Belgrade Derby. The surrounding area is overcrowded, with fans flocking to the gala match, cars and police trying to supervise the event.
A match under high surveillance
From the city centre to the stadium and especially in front of embassies and government buildings, groups of Serbian police officers of 5 to 10 units follow one another every 100 metres, equipped with shields, truncheons, dogs, horses, helmets and tutti quanti. More than 2,000 police officers are present to supervise the supporters of both sides.
On the law enforcement side, there are fears of clashes between Partizan supporters with the main group of ultras & hooligans the Grobari (meaning Gravedigger in French) and Red Star supporters the Delije (the Valiant). All the more so as for the occasion, friendships from both sides came from Greece and Russia to attend the show. In order not to depart from the rule, in the early afternoon, clashes took place in the cities of Belgrade. The atmosphere was given…
A political rivalry ?
In post-war Eastern Europe, football often rhymes with politics. At the end of the Second World War, the two teams were formed a few months apart. On the one hand, the Red Star of Belgrade was founded on 4 March 1945 by anti-fascist representatives of the Yugoslav Communist Party. On the other hand, the club of the Yugoslav army, the FK Partizan Belgrade created on 4 October 1945. The opposition between the two teams quickly turned into a confrontation between the Ministry of Defence and the Ministry of the Interior.
Today, we are far from the reality of the time, at least in the stands where, despite the sporting rivalry, the two hottest curves in Belgrade are very close politically due to their proximity to the extreme right. The numerous friendships of the two main groups of supporters in Europe are proof of this, with a little wink of fate: Spartak Moscow for the Red Star and CSKA Moscow for Partizan…
A city marked by war
A short word about the city of Belgrade before the match. The “white city” suffers from a blurred image, still marked by the war in Kosovo and the NATO bombings. Between East and West, Belgrade, Beograd in Serbian, is also 7,000 years of history, from the Ottoman reign to the Austro-Hungarian period, up to Tito’s Yugoslavia. What makes it the new Berlin ? Regardless of comparisons, Belgrade is itself and is awakening.
Today the city is trying to recover from the wounds of war. There are magnificent monuments to visit, such as the Cathedral of St. Sava (the largest Orthodox church in the world), the Bohemian Street, the Belgrade Fortress and the Kalemegdan Park. The city is known as a night town, where you can party on a barge on the banks of the Danube.
The people are very friendly and almost everyone speaks English.
A fiery atmosphere
You didn’t have to be asthmatic.
Historically, the Belgrade derby between Red Star and Partizan has always been a particularly hot affair, both on the pitch and in the stands. This Sunday’s championship match between the two clubs from the Serbian capital was no exception, as these pictures below show.
Tifo, smoke pots, fireworks, the fans on both sides did not do things by halves for the Belgrade Derby. That night, Belgrade was the capital of football. A completely hallucinating pyrotechnical spectacle for prices that were widely accessible to the general public.
50% of the stadium is represented by the ultras, it gives a fortress feeling and an extra motivation for the players.
An electric derby
38,800 spectators came to watch the match of the year in Serbia. The top two in the Serbian championship standings shared the stakes (0-0). Red Star maintained its leading position with eleven points ahead of the runner-up. Nevertheless, the game was intense with nine yellow cards distributed, including seven for Partizan.
The spectacle was more present in the stands than on the field… Seriously, are there people (apart from the fans of the teams concerned) who come to see the Belgrade derby just for the football ?
In the end, this Belgrade derby was a worthwhile experience and I wouldn’t mind coming back for another derby. But in the other camp this time, in the Partizan den, the Partizana Stadium.
A very closed match with 9 yellow cards, a lot of wasted opportunities, a technical weakness in the last 25 meters. In the end, a scoreless draw (0-0). The stakes won the match…
The Rajko stadium Mitić, nicknamed the “Marakana” is a mythical stadium with a capacity of 53,000 seats. However, the stadium is aging with used seats. There is also a flagrant lack of equipment: toilets, refreshment stands…
The stadium is about 20 minutes from the city centre. We strongly advise you to stay on the main roads as fights often take place in the narrow streets in the surrounding area between hooligans & ultras.
Tickets for the Belgrade Derby are leaving very quickly. The photo was taken only a few days after the ticket office opened and there are only a few tickets left to sell. Many areas are closed because the match is placed at high risk, a police presence frames the possible risks of trouble. An entire corner is reserved for visiting supporters (Partizan). The different groups of Partizan supporters do not get along very well and have to be separated, so as not to make things easier.
Only 4.25€ for the match in the bends and 9.50€ for the match in the grandstand ! It’s a gift for the poster of the year.
The stadium has no parking but is easily accessible by bus or tram. Alternatively, it is a 20-minute walk from the city centre.
It’s hard to find better in Europe! Sustained vocal power, tifos, pyrotechnics…
Before the match, incidents took place between two groups of ultras from Partizan at the stadium grounds. Fires were lit on seats in the visitors’ car park. Fights broke out between Partizan and Red Star fans outside the stadium despite a strong police presence. Quite frequent for this derby. In the side, the risk will be minimal.
This city exudes a special charm, marked by a strong history. Under reconstruction, we advise you to stay there for a weekend. A beautiful city by night.