Scenes of the week – #2
Following a positive reaction to the first episode of this feature last week, here is the latest round up of my favourite displays, tifos and general madness from around the world – with one of the awards headed outside of Europe for the first time…
Tifo of the week
Wydad Casablanca vs. Khouribga – Morocco Morocco is home to a thriving fan scene, with both clubs in Casablanca regularly providing memorable tifo displays and non-stop passionate support. Earlier in the week, Wydad had secured the championship for the 18th time in their history, and the first since 2009/10. An estimated 30,000 fans made the 285 mile (460km) journey for that one, completely taking over the stadium and dwarfing the home crowds. With the title in the bag for their return home for this game, the Wydad fans went all out, creating a ‘300’ style tifo which covered the entire stadium and paid tribute to their record number of titles.
Estimated attendance for the game was 100,000, many inside the stadium ‘unofficially’
Scenes of the week
Until the final whistle – Lokomotiv Sofia vs. CSKA Sofia – Bulgaria Imagine the uproar if the FA told Manchester United they would not be allowed to play in England next season, or if the Spanish authorities told Real Madrid they were no longer welcome. Imagine Juventus not being able to pay their electricity bills and the lights being switched off at the stadium for good. This is the situation in Bulgarian football right now, as the most successful club in the country stares into the abyss. Plagued by mismanagement and financial problems, CSKA Sofia have been told that their license to play professional football has been revoked. Barring a seemingly unlikely turnaround in fortunes, the 31 time champions of Bulgaria will be reduced to playing park football against amateurs. The main Sofia derby between Levski and CSKA has long been on my list of fixtures to attend, and I was planning to make it one of my top priorities for next season. Now, rather than being able to report on the game, it is starting to seem unlikely it will even take place at all. A horrific run of results for CSKA has seen them fail to win a league game in 2015 so far, plummeting down the table and looking unlikely to finish in one of the European qualification spots which is usually a guarantee. Indeed, the fallen giants recently went 10 matches without even scoring a goal, never mind winning a game. When they finally did get on the scoresheet, they lost anyway. Football in Sofia is volatile to say the least. I visited the city when Wales played in a qualifier, and visited the club shop of CSKA looking for a scarf to add to my collection from my travels. Instead, I found official club merchandise which depicted a Levski fan being stabbed and cooked in a giant pot! Better than a selfie stick granted, but still not what you expect. You would be forgiven for thinking that the CSKA fans would withdraw their support in such a situation, instead violently protesting the board or preparing for an AFC Wimbledon/FC United of Manchester style project. Quite the opposite. Recent weeks have seen CSKA step up their support a further notch, visiting city neighbours Lokomotiv. While the team couldn’t reward them with the victory they crave so badly, an 89th minute equaliser is the next best thing. And well, just look what it meant to the supporters:
As a bonus, here are some images of a recent protest tifo from Sector G at CSKA’s stadium, depicting money being stolen away from supporters by shady businessmen and the authorities.
CSKA’s fight for survival will go on, and with just one more game left until the end of the season – it is likely we have not seen the last of their protests and carnage in the near future. CSKA are hated and adored in equal measure, but never ignored – and it would be a disaster for Bulgarian football to lose them and the intense atmosphere of their clashes with Levski. I’ll be sure to keep you up to date once more news is known.
That’s it for this week, below are the matches I’ll be watching this week and can recommend for a strong chance of a great atmosphere and emotion from the supporters.
Games to look out for this week: