Hajduk Split v Dinamo Zagreb: Ethernal Derby | Eurasia Diary - ednews.net

22 April, Monday


Hajduk Split v Dinamo Zagreb: Ethernal Derby

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As soon as the game begins, the Hajduk Split ultras start to bounce. Four thousand supporters pulsate as one thronging mass at one end of the ground.

On a desk 200 yards away, a glass of water shakes like the famous scene in Jurassic Park. Split's Stadion Poljud, constructed near a fault line, was built to be earthquake proof. Hajduk fans test that theory. The stadium is shaking.

By the hour mark in Wednesday's match against bitter rivals Dinamo Zagreb, a sea of red flares have been lit in the home end.

They are officially banned but are smuggled into the stadium down trousers and in coat sleeves. The pitch and stands become engulfed in smoke, initially giving the scene a mystical quality - but eventually just blocking the view.

A number of flares make it over the running track and onto the pitch, forcing Dinamo goalkeeper Dominik Livakovic to move outside his penalty area for his own safety. Only then do the officials halt play for several minutes.

When Hajduk midfielder Mijo Caktas is sent off for a swinging arm that sparks a melee involving all 22 players, he is cheered from the pitch like a soldier returning home from war. In one section of the northern end, home supporters start a fire and seats are burnt. Fans continue to bounce, barely three meters from the blaze.

At no point does anyone act like this is out of the ordinary. Welcome to Croatia's Eternal derby.

The rivalry between Hajduk Split and Dinamo Zagreb can be traced back to the 1920s, but it has been supercharged since 1992. That was the first Croatian league season after the country declared independence from Yugoslavia in 1991.

Five years of war followed until diplomatic relations between the nations were restored in 1996.

Hajduk and Dinamo are Croatia's biggest clubs and were once part of the Yugoslav Big Four with Serb sides Red Star and Partizan Belgrade. Since independence, Hajduk and Dinamo have won 25 of 27 Croatian league titles and 21 of 27 domestic cups between them.

Several hours before Wednesday's game, home fans meet at Stari Plac, outside the headquarters of the Torcida supporters' club. A midweek fixture is not ideal, but beers are quickly downed to make up for lost time.

Dinamo fans clash with policeDinamo fans clash with policeDinamo fans clash with police

BBC

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