From rivalry to emulation, a virtue of sport

Next to the favorite team, there is always a team that we love to hate, same for the players! This has absolutely nothing to do with the talent, the strength of the teams, the quality of the players or the record of each other.

Rivalry is the salt and pepper of all sports competitions. It is at the origin of the performance of athletes who always want to go faster, higher and stronger. It goes further and does not only concern the actors, the sportsmen, it also concerns the public, the supporters and the leaders. Above all, do not meet a supporter on a losing evening, on the other hand he will be euphoric at least until the next match in the event of a victory.

The supporter identifies with the club, he is the club. He will say “we won!” with a lot of self-assurance and aplomb, as if he had taken part in the match, which he watched most of the time on TV.

Next to the favorite team, there is always a team that we love to hate, same for the players! This has absolutely nothing to do with the talent, the strength of the teams, the quality of the players or the record of each other. In Barcelona, ​​there are supporters of the Spaniard while logically all Catalans should support Barça, the same for Madrid, or Munich where there are still supporters of Munich 1860 (currently in the 3rd division) – in a city that home to Bayern, one of the most prestigious clubs in the world.

It’s even more intense when it comes to national teams. This Saturday, most Moroccans learned that Morocco was participating in the World Handball Championship and that it was going to face Algeria, African Champion 8 times and whose track record is much better than “ours”. While Algeria almost always led in the score, and were ahead of us by 2 points a few minutes from the end of the match, the Moroccan national team made a spectacular comeback to finally win 28-27. Social networks then ignited and the information quickly reached all those who follow the sport, except the Algerian media, and who support the Atlas Lions. It was not an important match, but beating the favorite rival is sublime for the supporters.

Many companies spend colossal sums to develop this feeling of belonging, to build customer loyalty, it is not necessary in sport. You are supporters of a team, why? We don’t know, but you don’t change it. A supporter who changes teams is called “coming out”. He loved secretly, without knowing it, his new team. No other explanations.

Competition organizers like to surf on these rivalries and on rivalries with other countries and other clubs. Since the World Cup was organized in Qatar, the center of gravity of football has moved to Arab countries. Saudi Arabia organizes the Spanish and Italian Super Cups, Morocco the Mundialito, Egypt is a candidate for the organization of the 2030 World Cup, not to mention the CAN which arouses enormous desire.

This rivalry is also fueled by sports personalities. In individual sports, for example in tennis, we have known the rivalry between Federer and Nadal, Connors and Borg, Mac Enroe and Borg. This has been seen in football too, although it is less frequent.

Indeed, each era has been dominated by a player, who crushed all the others in his class. There was Larbi Ben Barek – whose main career was eclipsed by the suspension of competitions during the Second World War, Pelé, Maradona and other South Americans as well as all those who had the privilege of to obtain the Ballons d’Or, a sign of their domination at a specific time. The only real individual rivalries football has known are the Johan Cruyff-Franz Beckenbauer and Messi-Cristiano Ronaldo rivalries. We could have mentioned the Zidane-Ronaldo (R9) rivalry, but they played together and their personalities were too consensual to generate a debate.

Franz Beckenbauer and Cruyff is a rivalry that lasted 7 years, from 1969 to 1976. It was Beckenbauer who first made himself known at the 1966 World Cup, before seeing Cruyff arrive in 1969 during a memorable semi-final against Benfica. Both have revolutionized world football.

Cruyff created the position of flying striker and later applied his conception of football as a manager. We owe Franz Beckenbauer a new conception of the Libero position. He was the first to get the ball out properly, in the opposing attack phase, to make the Libero the first counter-attacker. As a coach, he still won a World Cup and will forever be the first coach to watch his team’s matches standing up.

Today we have even created a coaching area in all stadiums. Their respective clubs, Ajax and Bayern, have won three successive European Champions Cups (the ancestor of the Champions League). But as they did not play in the same championship, Cruyff will then go to Barcelona in 1973, and not in the same position. However, their rivalry hasn’t been as big as the one between Cristiano and Messi.

This rivalry is probably the most important in the history of football and the Saudi football leaders were not mistaken when they invited Messi’s PSG for a gala match. The first Ryad Season Team thus opposed PSG to an agreement with Al Hilal (which represents Asia in the Club World Cup) and Al Nassr, the club which has just recruited Cristiano. A great match, an excellent performance from the best players in the world.

All these rivalries improve the levels, a victory allows you to validate a strategy, an assumed defeat allows you to come back stronger. Except when we deny reality and hide it. In this case, the rivalry does not arouse emulation, on the contrary.


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