June 5, 2012 | by  |
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Nothin’ But Net

Sporting Rivals: It’s Not Just A game

Shortly before my esteemed colleague at the NBN office submitted his contribution, the first fixture of the 2012 State of Origin series took place.

As far as rivalries go, this one is solid. Fascinating really, given it’s all about a Queensland inferiority complex (not hating: Maroons fan). Both states put national pride on the line and get up for all three fixtures each year.

Origin, however, is largely a product of media hype. There’s always pre-series intrigue about the squads, results, and how this season will be better than the last. It’s not a bad thing—I certainly buy into it. Here are three heated rivalries from around the world.

OLD FIRM DERBY

In Glasgow, the two main football teams are Celtic and Rangers, and there is a reason the Scottish League is called the “two-team league”.

They don’t just hate each other for success. Traditionally, Celtic have been supported by Catholics and Irish-Scots, while Rangers are loved by Protestants and native Scots.

Chants tend to range from bad taste (“The famine’s over, you may as well go home”) to outright offensive (“6,000,000 Jews and they should’ve been Protestants!”).

Aside from the £2.4 million spent quelling derby-related violence, the charity Nil By Mouth now exists because a 15-year-old Celtic fan got his throat slit after a game, and such tragedies aren’t unheard of in the cold Glaswegian streets.

EL CLASICO

Barcelona and Madrid are the two biggest cities in Spain and presently boast two of the world’s top soccer clubs. There are heated games in another top-heavy league, competition for young talent, but also political tension.

Real Madrid are seen to champion Spanish nationalism, and were regarded as General Franco’s team. Barcelona represent Catalanism and tend to be left-wingers who (understandably) don’t like Real much after Franco’s deeds.

INDO-PAKISTANI CRICKET RIVALRY

How much do I need to say here? With existing historical friction between the two countries and the passion they both have for the game it’s no surprise defeat is unacceptable for either side. In the absence of full-blown military conflict, games between the two tend to dictate perceptions of ascendancy.

So yeah, tell those guys it’s just a game.

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