Very Heated But Almost Unknown Football Rivalries

Hansa Rostock – FC St. Pauli

This last rivalry is very particular because in this case one of the two teams is quite well known to football fans while the other is almost completely unknown.

Considered one of the most endangered matches in the European football scene so that one policeman for every twenty people is employed this is the challenge between the German teams of Hansa Rostock and St. Pauli. These two minor clubs of Teutonic football (the first plays in the 3. Bundesliga, respectively the third and second level of German football) are not rivals neither, clearly for titles and prestige, nor for geographical proximity, they are in fact neither of the same city nor of the same region and are instead almost 200 kilometres from each other.

The reason for their deep mutual hatred (here we go beyond rivalry) is to be found in politics. St. Pauli is in fact openly left-wing and is famous for being one of the most progressive clubs in Europe. The Hamburg club was one of the first to take a strong stand against racism and homophobia in football and recently sacked the Turkish player Cenk Sahin who on Twitter expressed support for his country’s armed forces and their invasion of the Kurdish regions of northern Syria.

Hansa Rostock, on the other hand, is an openly right-wing club and one of the largest hideouts of neo-Nazis in Germany. This extreme tendency of the afternoon team dates back to the period immediately after unification when the once important port city in East Germany saw its importance decrease dramatically within a wider German panorama. Investments fell drastically and unemployment rose sharply.

The people of Rostock, desperate and stirred up by Corsican local politicians in 1992, launched several violent protests and xenophobic actions against the Vietnamese, Romanian and Turkish communities in the city. It is estimated that a total of almost 5000 people took to the streets in those days. It is said that just in that period St. Pauli arrived in the city to play a match of 2. Bundesliga against the local team (at the time both played in the second series). This obviously only fuelled tension and as was to be expected there were violent clashes between the two fans on match day.

From that moment on the teams hated each other to death and every time they met the tension was very high and it took a lot of law enforcement to keep calm.


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