It is a well-known fact that fans of 2 different clubs don’t get along very well with each other. A Manchester United fan will never see eye to eye with a Liverpool fan or a Manchester City fan. A Borussia Dortmund fan has a sworn enmity with German clubs Schalke and Bayern Munich.
Often, this rivalry has its roots in how the clubs were founded, and whether the fans of the clubs in question are from certain demographics which don’t mesh well with each other in general. For example, the Internazionale-Milan rivalry was based on the fact that most Inter fans were well-off, affluent and the club was gladly accepted international players into its squads, whereas the Milan fanbase was dominated by the people of Milan, and only fielded Italian players.
Today, however, the antagonism between fans of different clubs could be kindled by a variety of different reasons other than demographics, because of the international reach of the contemporary game. Fans in Asia, Africa and the Americas have been known to get physically violent in altercations with fans of rival clubs: mostly European clubs. The following 5 are some of the reasons for this enmity:
#1 The grass is always greener on the other side
Unless you are a fan of Manchester United, Bayern Munich, Real Madrid or Barcelona (The Big 4 clubs of world football), you are supporting a club whose scale of success is not as big as these 4. Even if you are a fan of any of these 4 clubs, there is always something missing from your club that others can use to take the mickey out of the club you support - which is not quite palatable for you, as a fan.
A typical example of this sort is the situation that Real and Barca fans find themselves in, after this past season. While Barca fans gleefully point to their domestic double, Real fans can hold up the Champions League trophy, which is the biggest prize of them all. And yet, neither of them can quite claim to be genuinely better off than the other.
Because the grass is always greener on the other side, the herd on this side of the fence shall always be jealous of and angry with the rest of the herd.
#2 Nothing better than watching your opponents bite the dust
It’s a fact of life: The best way to enjoy a demolition is when you hate the opponents whom you overpowered. When Manchester United beat Arsenal 8-2 in the Premier League, those United fans who enjoyed it most were the ones who hated Arsenal from the days of the epic Fergie-Wenger battles of the early 2000s. The others enjoyed the lopsided battle but did not feel the true pleasure of the carnage which took place that day.
Pretty much the same way, all Arsenal fans felt a little less sore at their defeat after the way Manchester City dismantled United 6-1 at Old Trafford a month or so later, even though it wasn’t their own team doing the honours. You have to feel strongly about your opponents to enjoy their downfall.
#3 Bitterness because of the arrogance of the other
The reasons for which someone supports a football club can be really strong indicators about their own personality. More often than not, people support teams and adore players whose image they can identify themselves with, which makes them behave possessively with regard to their affiliations. Many of them choose to show arrogance, rather than pride in their choices. This leads them to come off as very disagreeable to fans of other clubs.
This arrogant behaviour makes them talk down to opposing players and team and results in animosity. Tensions are born, bred and accumulated with time, and the longer that fans of 2 clubs have been rivals, the greater is the degree of hate and ill-feelings that one faction holds for the other.
#4 The holier than thou attitude
“Are you a Real Madrid fan? Have you ever played a single youth academy player in your first team? You buy the best players and then call yourself the best system and best club in the world, shame on you!”, is the average animated taunt that a typical Barca fan makes in the presence of a Real fan.
“Are you a Chelsea fan? Do you know who your manager was in March 1935? What happened to all those English league titles you won in the 20th century? – Wait you didn’t, did you? You just found a rich tycoon and bought your way to success”, is a taunt that Chelsea fans are made to hear all the time from fans of most Premier League clubs.
In the face of such obvious, in-the-face provocation, it is obvious that relations between fans of different clubs do get heated.
#5 Club spends its money to buy your favourite players from your club
Most Arsenal fans know this feeling for a number of years now. First Thierry Henry, and then eventually Adebayor, Clichy, Nasri, Fabregas, van Persie and Alex Song, went off to a variety of rival clubs, strengthening them directly and working to bring Arsenal’s title hopes down.
Almost all football clubs face this problem of having to part with their best players to bigger clubs, exponentially higher budgets and a better prospect of money and fame. Little wonder it is, then, that they hate the clubs where their players go off to.
Southampton fans can’t stand being in the same room as Liverpool fans, can they now?