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Milan Derby - AC Milan vs Inter Milan

Cultural and Education Section of the British Embassy - British Council
 This article was generously provided to ClubFootball by the British Council, which operates in China as the Cultural and Education Section of the British Embassy.

 

A Family Feud
 
There's nothing like a good old family row to get the adrenalin flowing. In Milan, they've been at it for more than 90 years, since a rebel faction broke away from the Milan Cricket and Football Club (later AC Milan) to form "Internazionale".
 
Feuding Cousins
 
"We are more like feuding cousins than bitter enemies," says Luca of the Milan derby, as he bites into a toasted ham and cheese sandwich outside the Bar Stadio, the rather scruffy pre-match drinking hole just thirty yards from the entrance of the impressive San Siro stadium.
 
Luca is an Inter "ultra", a member of the hardcore supporters who add so much colour to Italian games with their flags, banners and flares.
 
At some derbies across Italy, especially those in Rome and Turin, local rivalry often spills over into violence between the two sets of ultras, but it says much about the Milan derby that clashes between fans are rare.
 
"We don't like each other but we both probably dislike Juventus more," adds Luca, "There are insults and jokes against each other but for most fans that is the limit. We have to live in the same streets, work in the same places and travel on the same metro. It happens sometimes that things get out of hand but it is quite rare".
 
Indeed those used to more tense derbies may be surprised to find rival fans joking and drinking with each other in the local cafes and bars before the game.
 
Nor is it unusual for families to contain members of both clans. The Milan derby is more a domestic tug-of-love, a matter of prestige rather than a civil war, lacking the added edge of a political, social or religious divide that lies behind the tension at such games as the Rome, Glasgow or Madrid derbies.
 
The political divide between the two clubs that once existed has become blurred in the past decade.
 
Inter are traditionally considered a conservative, right-wing club, drawing their support from the more prosperous strata of Milan society - yet their president Massimo Moratti, while a millionaire from his family's oil business is on the left in politics and was even considered as a candidate for mayor of Milan by an alliance of centre-left parties.
 
AC Milan, just Milan to Italians, were once identified as the team of the city's working class, supported by large numbers of trade unionists and leftists, yet their modern success owes much to the finances of media magnate Silvio Berlusconi, who is leader of the opposition centre-right Forza Italia party.
 
Today it is only football style and the search for glory which divides the two clubs. What truly makes the Milan derby an event is not the intensity of the rivalry but its setting.
 
Light, noise, colour
 
"Approaching the San Siro at night takes your breathe away, with all its incredible lights and towers." says another Inter fan Giuseppe:
"Standing outside you get a feeling of being minute, a little unimportant thing, not able to take in anything else going on around you because your supporter's heart has just found its home, its sense of life. You can imagine what the ambience of the old Roman games must have felt like".
Once inside the stadium your senses are simply bombarded with the light, the noise, the colour of the fans.
 
The stands of the San Siro bank sharply and the fans in the upper tiers can experience vertigo as they shout for their heroes.
 
Flares continually illuminate the crowd. Smoke and noise fill the air. The ultras, as always, are situated behind the goals. The AC Milan fanatics in the "fossa dei leoni" (lion's cave) decked in red and black, Inter's "Irriducibili" (indomitable) in their blue and black.
 
Once together
 
They may be divided today but once the football lovers of Milan had just one team to support. Milan Cricket and Football Club, founded in 1899 by Englishman Alfred Edwards, was the domain of the expatriate English community and their well-heeled friends in the city, who met over cocktails at the American Bar.
 
On March 9th, 1908, after a meeting in the backroom of the Orologio restaurant near Piazza del Doumo, an Italian and Swiss rebel faction decided to break away and set up their own football club. The club was named "Internazionale" in a jibe at the exclusive nature of their old team-mates who in turn later adopted the Italian Associazone Calcio, and dropped the reference to cricket, although they have kept to this day the English Milan title, in respect to their origins.
 
It did not take long for the two clubs to meet. Just six months after their birth, Inter met Milan in the first derby match over the Alpine border in Chiazzo, Switzerland. By the end of the 1999/2000 Italian football season, Internazionale and AC Milan had played each other 246 times.
 
Inter fans taunt the milanista because, unlike their rivals, Inter have never been relegated. The chant of "Serie B" hurled at the red and black support, refers to the 1979 season when Milan were dropped down a division after a match-fixing scandal and two years later were relegated again purely due to football factors. Despite Inter's slight lead in the Serie A contests between these two clubs, AC Milan lead Inter 92-84 in the total number of matches played in all competitions.
 
In recent years Milan have been far more successful, winning two European Cups and six Italian titles in the 1990s.
 
Inter's last Italian title was eleven years ago and despite spending over £300 million on international stars such as Ronaldo and Ivan Zamorano, Inter are still far from their glory days of the 1960s, when they won three Serie A titles and two European Cups.
 
The derby is no longer a purely local affair. Both clubs have recruited numerous international stars. The clashes are viewed live on television by millions across the globe and reported on in newspapers of all languages. But the event would be nothing without the contribution of the Milanese, their passion for the game, their wit, their songs and their ability to turn a state-of-the art stadium into an unmatched carnival of colour and noise twice a year, every year.

 

 

May 2001

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