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This Isn’t A Warzone. It’s Footage From The Most Intense Rivalry In Europe.

Witness Partizan Stadium during the Eternal Derby, where police number in the 100s and fans set fire to the stands.

Growing up in the United States, I used to hear about the intense atmosphere at European football matches. I heard horror stories of young children going to their first live match and leaving drenched in tears, sweat, and spilled beer. These matches were attended only by the craziest fans in the world, or at least that’s how they were made to seem. Only later, when I started watching live matches regularly, did I realize how blown out of proportion those stories were. 

I now realize that in the Premier League, La Liga, Bundesliga, and Ligue 1, fans are not attending games with a bloodlust the size of Texas. They still get rowdy, and there are still select groups of hardcore fans known as Ultras that have been known to take things too far, but I would not fear for my life should I ever attend a match in one of these leagues. 

What you are about to see is not footage from a match in one of those leagues.

That was a system of tunnel’s beneath Partizan Belgrade’s Partizan Stadium just before the team's Eternal Derby match against Red Star Belgrade in Serbia.

If you are like me, all of those police officers seemed extremely excessive at first. After all, we live in a civilized world where fans act with dignity, for the most part. They are not intimidating. They inspire admiration for their passion for the game. Surely they don’t require a hundred police officers in riot gear. Surely the fans that wait in the stadium are not that rowdy. 

And then you see them.

They are not like anything else in the world. They are everything that I was warned about. There is not one child in that crowd, because even if a youngster made it into that mass of humanity they would either die or become an adult out of necessity. The pulsing chants, the jumping, it all makes you feel like an Ultra’s beating heart has been ripped out just so the world can see what pride and aggression really look like. It’s breathtakingly intimidating.

Those were just the Red Star fans; the Partizan fans were just as crazy. They built a bonfire in the very same stands they stood in. Watch as it burns not 5 yards away from a seething crowd of supporters, who are not moving away from it but throwing more and more into it so that it grows larger. It’s not just a couple people contributing either, it’s literally hundreds of them constantly fueling the flames.   

This is the stuff of legend. The kind thing that you tell people about but they don’t believe until they see it for themselves. These fans built a bonfire 20 feet tall in the stadium. Those armed police officers from before aren’t just necessary, they might not be enough. They are horribly outnumbered. Send in the army. Send in the air force. Send in a bunch of puppies held by bikini models if it will help calm the crowd down. They are loosely controlled chaos, and there’s no telling what might set them off. 

This is a very real side of European football, brought to you by the Eternal Derby: one of the most passionate in the world since 1947. For right or wrong, it has the craziest fans in the world. It’s dangerous, it’s uncontainable, and I can’t look away.  

...Meanwhile, back in the United States. 

craziest fans in the world

Follow me on Twitter: @yetly

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