Yesterday a group of us attended the Eternal Derby – the soccer game between the two biggest clubs in Serbian soccer. The game between Red Star and Partizan decided this season’s champion of the Jelen Beer Super Liga. Coming into the game, Partizan was 1 point ahead of Red Star atop the table with 2 rounds left in the season. There was a capacity crowd at the game and as you can see in the video, there is no stadium atmosphere like it in the world. Sadly, Partizan dominated play and won a 1-0 victory to most likely, ensure another championship. They looked faster and in better shape than Red Star, who was playing defense most of the game. I say sadly because I am a Red Star supporter. Red Star can take consolation with their victory earlier this week in the Lav Beer, Serbian Cup. The Cup is the knockout tourney that occurs simultaneously as the regular season. Red Star is in rough shape financially as are all of the teams in the Serbian league. The country is too small to have a quality league. I wish they could do the same as basketball, and form a regional league with the countries of the Yugoslavia.
The fans are fanatical, and it made the game better with all of the singing, flags, large banners, and fireworks. I don’t understand the passion however.
I enjoyed the game with my friends, a special thanks to Dan for getting us the tickets!
Sunday Oliver and I attended the “Eternal Derby” in Belgrade. The derby is the game between the two biggest teams in the Serbian Professional Soccer League, Red Star and Partizan. The game was held in the Red Star Stadium (Crvena zveda in Serbian) in front of over 20,000 spectators.
Both teams are known for their fanatical hooligans, and I was a bit tentative from attending the game. But the father of one of my students kindly purchased tickets in the VIP section of the stadium for us which was safe. The father happened to be former NBA basketball star Vlade Divac. He hand delivered them to me on the morning of the game. You can see him behind Oliver’s head in the background of the photo above. He is known for his kindness and humanitarian service and it is true. It was a very nice gesture and I want to give him a huge thank you! Please donate to Humanitarian Organization Divac. Vlade is a big star still here in Serbia. I guess the equivalent of this in the US would be Magic Johnson giving us tickets for a Laker-Celtic game. Very cool!
The stadium had an amazing atmosphere! The fans of Partizan especially sang, had banners, fireworks, etc and were on their feet the entire game. We went to the game with my colleague, Luiz, a science teacher in the secondary school. He is from Brazil and used to this kind of rabid fans, but even he was impressed.
Partizan won this 134th edition of the derby, 2-0. There were many goal opportunities for both teams and the action was non-stop. This is Partizan’s sixth straight win in six rounds of the league and they are in first place. Red Star is in eigth place out of twelve teams, with 2 wins, 2 ties, and 3 losses.
Red Star is the biggest and most popular team in Serbia. They were formed in 1945 shortly after Tito took over, hence the communist red star symbol. They won the forerunner of the European Champions League in 1991, the only former Yugoslavian team to do so. Since the breakup of Yugoslavia, they have fallen on hard times, as most of the top Serbian players go for the higher salaries of other European leagues. Oliver is a big fan of Red Star and so am I.
Partizan is more of a working class team and the second most popular team in Serbia. They were also … (time to go to school, I’ll finish this post later.)