Balkan brotherhood through sports

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Balkan football clubs brotherood

There is no doubt that sports can bring people together and foster a sense of unity. Sports has no borders, and people worldwide, apart from their differences, share the same passion for a team.

The Balkans form one of the landmarks of brotherhood through sports. All fan bases or curves have or used to have a strong friendship bond with a group from a different club over the years. Although independent, most ultras groups find themselves in need or desire to create relationships with other cities, nations, or continents. In a nutshell, sports can unite them.

One of the strongest friendships is between Greece and Serbia. They enjoy close diplomatic relations, which have traditionally been friendly due to cultural, religious, and historical ties between the two nations. Most Serbs and Greeks practice the Eastern Orthodox faith, and the two nations share a similar Byzantine heritage as both were part of the Eastern Roman Empire. As an outcome, it is worth noting that there is a brotherhood between two Greek and two Serbian football clubs.

Olympiacos FC – Crvena Zvezda: “The Orthodox Brothers”

The ultras of Olympiacos, Greece (Gate 7), and Zvezda, Serbia (Delije) have a special bond that, in many cases, leaves the sports fans speechless. Olympiacos and Crvena Zvezda don’t share only the same colours, but their social background was also similar. Since 1986 year of the football game of Crvena Zvezda against Panathinaikos – the “eternal rival” of Olympiacos – the Ultras of the two teams have been connected and fraternized.

Recent contacts between the ultras bases, always in the high tiers of European football, had further consolidated a bond with more than 30 years of history. The Orthodox Brothers could be considered the strongest alliance in the supporters’ world for the upcoming years.

In 2019, Crvena Zvezda and Olympiacos met in the Champions League. Delije prepared choreography to celebrate the brotherhood with the text:

“Let today win the one in better mood, We’ll be brothers forever in evil and good”

For the return match in Athens, Gate 7 also prepared a tifo to emphasize their brotherhood with the text:

“33 years brothers”

balkan football clubs: brotherhood, Crvena Zvezda and Olympiacos

On the 7th of November 2014 Crvena Zvezda hosted a Euroleague match against their Greek brother Olympiacos. Where Serbian fans intoned in Greek the typical Olympiacos fan chant “something magical”. Moreover, they managed to create a spectacular choreograph, filling the whole stadium with their colours, and in the middle, the colours of Greece.

In order to show their brotherhood, Olympiacos fans created a similar choreography for the next game in Athens, while the fans started singing chants of both teams, both in greek and serbian.

balkan football clubs: brotherhood, Crvena Zvezda and Olympiacos

However, the special bond between Olympiacos and Zvezda fans is not only manifested during matches. On the contrary, there are plenty of times when Gate 7 or Delije travelled to different countries to support each other, regardless of the opponents.

PAOK – Partizan: “Same colours, same religion”

Another greek-serbian friendship in sports is between Gate 4 (PAOK, Thessaloniki, Greece) and Grobari (Partizan, Belgrade, Serbia). The bond between Partizan and PAOK is more than just an acquaintance; it is a brotherhood. To be a PAOK fan means to be a Partizan Belgrade fan and vice versa. Both teams have strong Eastern Orthodox Christian roots, both clubs have the motto

“Same colour, same religion.”

balkan football clubs: brotherhood, PAOK – Partizan

Furthermore, the very strong brotherhood between them has led, on many occasions, the fans from both clubs to travel to watch each other’s games. For instance, PAOK fans went to Belgrade at the Euroleague game between Partizan and Olympiacos.

partizan supporting paok

Partizan’s fans came to Greece to support PAOK in the game of the greek superleague against Olympiacos on 5th of February 2023.

Lastly, both teams have played against each other. On this occasion the fans created an amazing atmosphere with mixed chants, flags and scarves.

Balkan football clubs: brotherhood Aris Thessaloniki – Botev Plovdid

Lastly, another special Balkan sports bond is between Aris Thessaloniki (Greece) and Botev Plovdid (Bulgaria). These two teams share same colours and passion for their clubs. Until today, they have never met in a football game or European league, however, the fans have created a quite strong friendship.

In addition, Botev Plovdid announced through Facebook that two friendly matches in 2023 will take place between Aris and Botev. A friendship has developed between the two clubs, however, it is mainly based on some personal friendships between fans. Botev’s fans can be considered “far right,” while ARIS fans are not political.

Thus, sports in Balkans plays a catalytic role in spreading the culture of the nations, observing the common elements and what unites them. At the same time, through sports and the “informal” friendships created between the fans, the supporters carry with them their own habits and characteristics.

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