What makes a sport entertaining to watch?
Is it the passion or the history or the team? People say it’s all three, but there’s one thing that’s missing. Rivalry.
There’s nothing like a good sporting rivalry to make us all hooked, sitting at the edge of our seats.
This is why despite being under-viewed in Egypt this year, Copa America’s semifinal between Argentina and Brazil drew everyone from around the world, despite the game starting at 2:30 AM.
This rivalry isn’t the only one worth talking about it, though. Our list shows it all.
Argentina VS England
The rivalry between these two countries may seem unlikely, considering the geographical distance.
With the history involved, though, it makes perfect sense.
The rivalry began in the 1966 FIFA World Cup in England, also won by the host.
The two teams met in the round of 8 and played a fateful match the Argentinians called “the theft of the century“, where England won 1-0 by Hurst’s goal.
Argentina claimed the goal to be offside and the emotions in the match escalated.
Things heightened more after Argentina’s captain, who later ripped a UK flag, was sent off for unmentioned reasons.
After this match, England’s coach disallowed his team from swapping shirts with the Argentinians, referring to them as “animals”.
Then, much like most countries, Argentina and England began fighting over land in the infamous undeclared Falklands War, where British forces eventually won.
That same year Maradona scored the infamous Hand of God goal and the rest is history.
Honduras VS El Salvador
Though these two countries may not pop up whenever you think of a heated football rivalry, Honduras and El Salvador’s rivalry got so intense it started a war.
War, obviously, is not a thing that should be taken lightly. To the residents of both countries, it hadn’t seemed that way at the time.
The instigator to the 100 Hour War was a World Cup Qualifying match (familiar?), but it was certainly not the beginning.
Both countries have had pre-existing troubles, centering around Salvadoran immigration to Honduras and politics, naturally.
The qualifying matches were the fuse that lit the bomb.
After much fan fighting and injuries over the first two matches, El Salvador broke off all diplomatic ties with Honduras the day of the third and final match.
The war began on July 14th. The ceasefire, called by the Honduran government, was arranged on the 18th.
Brazil VS Argentina
This rivalry is a known South American classic to all.
Brazil and Argentina’s rivalry roots aren’t even in football originally, but no one really knows where it started.
These two countries aren’t just rivals when it comes to football. Every other sport is marked with the anticipation of seeing who wins in the end.
The rivalry isn’t just limited to discussions over who is better, Pele or Maradona, or how many stars the shirt has.
Before the regular football stuff, there was chaos too.
In the 1925 Copa America, Argentina and Brazil played the final match in Buenos Aires.
Before the end of the first half, an Argentinian player committed a strong foul, which the Brazilian answered with a kick.
A punch and a few pitch invasions later, the game was suspended and not resumed until the players in question made a truce.
The damage was done, however. Argentina and Brazil didn’t have another match for 11 years.
This was only the first of the records incident.
Albania VS Serbia
Another football rivalry that goes back to war and politics, Albania and Serbia’s rivalry is nothing to take lightly.
At the center of all this is both country’s view on Kosovo and the devastating Kosovo War that happened as a result.
One particular incident was in UEFA’s Euro 2016 qualifying match in Serbia, where tensions rose high.
Several incidents happened that day.
Among the things that happened were Serbian fans chanting “kill the Albanians”, a drone flying in with the Albanian flag, players from each team attempting to snatch the flag (to protect it or remove it), as well as several pitch invasions by harassing Serbian fans .
The match was duly suspended.
Egypt VS Algeria
In our opinion, no list would be full without this gem. A rivalry so intense, Wikipedia has an entire page for to document it.
The roots of the rivalry stem further back than 2009, even if you don’t think otherwise.
In 1989 , Egypt denied Algeria the chance to qualify for the 1990 World Cup in Italy in a match described to be a battlefield.
The short story is Algerians felt that the Tunisian referee was biased in Egypt’s favor, which led to a fan riot.
Lakhdar Belloumi was convicted for an attack that blinded Egypt’s team doctor in one eye, though he claims Kamel Kadri was the culprit.
Some say the rivalry could stem back to the 50’s, where Algeria were banned from playing in Egypt while publicizing their independence campaign.
Others say it goes back to the days of Arabization.
Either way, all of this culminated to stir together the events of 2009, which we can all agree were intense, for lack of a better word.
After the Om Durman match, some local news outlets were steadily pushing for a quasi-war that thankfully didn’t happen.
A few months after, things were going okay, with Egypt and Algeria meeting again in AFCON Angola 2010, in which Egypt won 4-0.
Algeria VS France
You don’t have to look too deep into this rivalry to understand how it came to be.
This one is fairly simple, compared to others on the list. The matches between these two countries are emotionally charged because of Algeria’s time as a French colony.
Algeria’s independence from France is fairly young, with the former gaining it in July, 1962.
Even after much effort for reconciliation, emotions could still be felt high whenever the two face each other. As was the case with the French-Algerian friendly in 1998, which despite being a friendly, felt like much more.
While a football rivalry is intense and makes for entertaining games, we don’t encourage football hooliganism.
Have fun, mock your rivals responsibly, and don’t go beyond the bounds of normal limits.