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American Football

  • The Denver Broncos and Oakland Raiders in the NFL. When they play, there will be fights (in the stands, at any rate).
    • Case in point with Aqib Talib and Michael Crabtree...
    • The Raiders are hated enemies with every team in the AFC West (Broncos, Chiefs, and Chargers, but especially the former two).
  • On the NFC side, the Green Bay Packers and Chicago Bears have a long history (their first game was in 1921 and the two teams have played each other the most times out of any pair of NFL teams).
  • The San Francisco 49ers and Dallas Cowboys have waged war for NFC supremacy for years. They have met in the playoffs seven times, with the victor usually going on to the Super Bowl.
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  • On a higher level, the Dallas Cowboys and Pittsburgh Steelers have met in the Super Bowl three times; the most Super Bowl match-ups of any pair of teams.
  • The Baltimore Ravens, Cincinnati Bengals, and Cleveland Browns don't like each other in the AFC North Division, but there is one single team that is their sworn archenemy and they despise above all others: The Pittsburgh Steelers. Ask any fan of those teams who is their biggest rival and they will always say the Steelers. At times, they will even cheer for each other even if it means the Steelers losing.
  • Pick an NFC East (Cowboys, Eagles, Giants, Redskins) team. ANY NFC East team. Each fan base will suggest that they harbor animosity for the other more than any other division in the league.
  • The Atlanta Falcons and the New Orleans Saints have shared the same division since 1970, including the realignment from the NFC West to the newly formed NFC South in 2002. The rivalry has intensified with the success that Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan and Saints quarterback Drew Brees have brought to the formerly beleaguered franchises, and the results on the scoreboard have been significantly closer.

Association Football

  • The crowning example of this trope in football has to be Celtic and Rangers in Scotland. This rivalry is known as the "Old Firm", and stems largely from the sectarianism of their home city, Glasgow. Celtic is a traditionally Catholic club, while Rangers are a Protestant club. The conflict has grown even more bitter during and after The Troubles - with Celtic fans sympathizing with the Irish Republicans, and Rangers fans siding with the British Loyalists. In fact, Old Firm matchdays are every bit as volatile in Northern Ireland as in Glasgow itself.
  • Manchester City fans, as a rule, detest Manchester United. The feeling may not be reciprocated, as United supporters may see Liverpool or Arsenal as their arch-rivals (due to City's not winning anything for 42 years). This has changed in recent years.
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  • Liverpool and Manchester United fans enjoy a bitter rivalry, due to proximity and being the two most successful teams in English football history. Liverpool also have Everton, cross-town rivals, but this is more of a family feud, quite literally, in some cases - legendary Liverpool defender Jamie Carragher grew up supporting Everton and it's quite common for close family members to support the opposing team.
  • Ajax and Feyenoord in the Dutch football league, which also represents the clash between the Netherlands' two biggest cities and their diverging attitudes - the artsy Amsterdam and the hard-working Rotterdam. These attitudes also translate themselves on the pitch - Ajax are known for their brand of attractive football, and are best known as the originators of the "Total Football" system, while Feyenoord prefer a more aggressive, physically overwhelming brand of football. This rivalry is so intense that two opposing hooligan firms - Ajax's F-Side and Feyenoord's S.C.F. Hooligans, outright agreed online to have a brawl against each other back in 1997. PSV Eindhoven sometimes joins in as well, especially against Ajax.
  • Greek football has Panathinaikos-Olympiacos Piraeus. You know this rivalry qualifies when it is known as "The Derby of the Eternal Enemies".
  • Bulgaria has its own "Derby of the Eternal Enemies" in the form of the main two clubs from the city's capital of Sofia, CSKA and Levski.
  • Germany has Borussia Dortmund vs FC Schalke 04, known as the Revierderby (Ruhr Derby).
  • Italy has two derbies that qualify: the first is AC Milan-FC Internazionale, a rivalry stemming largely from their diverging philosophies - even though the hatred between the two sets of fans has greatly simmered down over the years, and the other being AS Roma-SS Lazio, considered by many to be one of the most heated and vitriolic rivalries in world football, where stabbings of opposing fans and pre-match riots are not uncommon.
  • Portuguese football has a three-way arch-rivalry, with Porto, Benfica and Sporting Lisbon fans all detesting each other.
  • Spanish football has many rivalries, but none come close to the Real Madrid–Barcelona rivalry known as El Clasico. The two clubs were the respective bastions of the right and the left during the days of the Spanish Civil War, and in the years of Francisco Franco's dictatorship, Barça represented the repressed region of Catalonia, while Real was Franco's "pet team". The two clubs also regularly challenge for both domestic and European titles, making it quite possibly football's most famous rivalry alongside the Old Firm. The rivalry is so intense that for years it was blamed for the Spanish national team's struggles as the bad blood kept the players from being able to play as one unit. Other important Spanish rivalries include Celta Vigo-Deportivo La Coruña, Sevilla-Real Betis, Athletic Club-Real Sociedad and Valencia-Villareal.
  • Likewise, Argentinian football has a treasure trove of rivalries, but the most important of them all by far is the Superclasico, contested between the country's two most successful clubs: River Plate and Boca Juniors, both from the capital city of Buenos Aires. Originally, the rivalry came from class warfare - River was the rich man's club and became known as Los Millonarios (the Millionaires) for the club's expensive transfers in the 1930s, while Boca Juniors was founded by Italian and Greek immigrants in 1905. Today, this subtext has died down, but the rivalry still remains one of the fiercest in world football. Other important rivalries include that between Racing and Independiente in Avellaneda - whose grounds are literally a city block apart, Rosario Central and Newell's Old Boys in Rosario, and Estudiantes and Gimnasia in La Plata - a rivalry so strong that in 2008 Gimnasia fans sent death threats to their players to lose on purpose against Boca to hinder Estudiantes' chances to win a home title.
  • Turkish football has Galatasaray and Fenerbahçe - Istanbul's two strongest sides representing respectively the European and Asian side of the city, and to a lesser extent, Beşiktaş.
  • In Brazil, not only inter-city teams are arch enemies, but some manage to cross state borders as well. A lot of contested important games between Atlético-MG and Flamengo (the country's most popular team) made the former hate the latter as much as city rival Cruzeiro.
  • In the United States' Major League Soccer, the Portland Timbers and Seattle Sounders FC, also known as the I-5 Rivalry. They, alongside common rival Vancouver Whitecaps, also make up the Cascadia Cup.
    • This spills over into the National Women's Soccer League, with Portland Thorns FC and Reign FC (Seattle Reign FC until they moved to Tacoma in 2019).

Australian Rules Football

  • The Carlton Blues, Collingwood Magpies and Essendon Bombers have a three-way rivalry, although if push comes to shove Carlton and Essendon fans will usually support each other against Collingwood.
  • The Adelaide Crows and the Port Adelaide Power.
  • The Geelong Cats and the Hawthorn Hawks.


  • The Los Angeles Dodgers and San Francisco Giants have been arch rivals since the 1800s, from their days in New York, all the way across the coast when they moved together to California.
  • The New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox, the American League's, and possibly Major League Baseball's most bitter rivalry.
  • Completing the trinity of big baseball rivalries is the Chicago Cubs vs. St. Louis Cardinals. This due to their long history (both teams date to the late 19th Century), close proximity, and the fact that Cardinals are one of the most successful teams in history (19 NL pennants and 11 World Series Championships, second in MLB to the Yankees) and the Cubs are...not.
  • The Minnesota Twins had a longstanding rivalry with the Milwaukee Brewers until the latter team was moved into the National League in 1998. These days the feud is between the Twins and the Chicago White Sox (spoiled somewhat by the fact that the two teams tend to be uneven - in years the Twins are very good the Sox tend to be very bad and vice-versa).
    • In the late 1980s-early 1990s the Twins and the Oakland Athletics had a fierce rivalry going as well - both teams were young, scrappy, and dominant in the AL West.


  • In basketball, there really is no better rivalry than that between the Lakers and Celtics. This one is born out of success, as opposed to any local enmity - between 1959 and 1969 they played each other seven times for the NBA title (the Celtics won all of them), and then it revived in the mid-to-late 1980's with Magic Johnson and Larry Bird with Finals meetings in 1984, 1985, and 1987 (the Celtics won in '84, the Lakers the other two times).
    • The Lakers are also the arch enemies of about half the Western Conference (while Los Angeles only acknowledges Boston as their rival).
    • In fact, ESPN made a three-part documentary about the rivalry for its 30 for 30 series. The title: Celtics/Lakers: Best of Enemies.
  • The Philadelphia 76ers and the Boston Celtics arguably have the most storied rivalry in the Eastern Conference, having met in more playoff series than any other team in NBA history. It was particularly nasty in the 1980s as fights were common between the two.
  • The Miami Heat, Chicago Bulls and New York Knicks have a three-way rivalry.
  • The New York Liberty and Detroit Shock were very intense WNBA rivals, until the latter was sold and moved to Tulsa.note 
  • The Detroit Pistons and Los Angeles Lakers, Bill Laimbeer and Rick Mahorn in particular. When they were reunited as WNBA coaches on opposite sides, their egos got in the way, and both teams got into a fight.
  • The New York Knicks and Indiana Pacers. Reggie Miller, one of Indiana's most well-known players, even compared it to the legendary Hatfield–McCoy feud.
  • European basketball has its own set of rivalries that are every bit as bitter as Celtics–Lakers, if not more so.
    • Barça and Real also have a bitter basketball rivalry, though in that sport they have to share the spotlight with the Basque club Baskonia.
    • As for Baskonia, it has its own bitter regional rival in Bilbao Basket, with Gipuzkoa also joining in on the fun.
    • The Olympiacos–Panathinaikos rivalry is just as rancorous in basketball as in football.
    • The Lithuanian "national derby" between Rytas (from the capital of Vilnius) and Žalgiris (out of Kaunas).
    • Croatia has its own "national derby" between Cibona and Split. Drilling down to the capital of Zagreb, it's Cibona and Cedevita.
    • Serbia: The Belgrade derby between Partizan and Red Star (also intense in football).
    • In Italy, you have Fortitudo and Virtus in Bologna, as well as Olimpia Milano and Pallacanestro Cantù. Olimpia sometimes joins in against Virtus as well.
    • In Turkey, Fenerbahçe and Galatasaray are part of an intense three-way Istanbul rivalry alongside Anadolu Efes (which shares the European side with Galatasaray).
    • In Israel, it's Maccabi Tel Aviv vs. Everything.
    • Germany has a three-way battle for supremacy between Alba Berlin, Bayern Munich, and Brose Bamberg.


  • Muhammad Ali and Joe Frazier. Three fights, with Frazier winning the first, and Ali the second, before the bitterly contested Thrilla in Manila which Frazier always insisted he could have won had the referees allowed the bout to continue. During their rivalry, and for years afterwards, the well-spoken flashy Ali would belittle and mock the completely uneducated Frazier, who was largely unable to defend himself, and in turn became ever more bitter, openly gloating over Ali's development of Parkinson's. The two did eventually reconcile before Frazier's death, with Ali attending his funeral and displaying an appropriate respect.


  • The biggest, fiercest rivalry within cricket by far is between India and Pakistan.
  • The Ashes (England vs. Australia) is also Serious Business, especially due to the 100+ year history of the rivalry.

Ice Hockey

  • The Montreal Canadiens have not one, but two: the Boston Bruins and the Toronto Maple Leafs. For a while, the Habs had three archenemies. In addition to their enmity with the Bruins and the Leafs, the Canadiens also had an ugly relationship with the Quebec Nordiques, who played in the provincial capital of Quebec City. This seems to have died down after the Nordiques moved to Colorado and became the Avalanche, though.
  • The Leafs have another rival similar to Habs-Nordiques, the Ottawa Senators.
  • The New York Rangers serve as the Arch-Enemy to both teams from the NY Metropolitan Area, the New York Islanders (a playoff match in the 70s still results in Rangers fans screaming "Potvin Sucks!") and the New Jersey Devils (who shout "Rangers suck!" at every home game without fail).
  • The Chicago Blackhawks and the Detroit Red Wings, hands down THE premiere rivalry of the NHL in the Midwest. It was only fitting that their final game as division rivals before the Red Wings' move to the Eastern Conference in 2014 was a Game 7 overtime.
  • The Battle of Alberta is a result of the fierce rivarly of divisional, and provincial, rivals of the Edmonton Oilers and Calgary Flames.
  • NCAA hockey brings us the Battle of Commonwealth Avenue: Boston University vs Boston College, which stretches all the way back to BU's first hockey game ever on February 6, 1918. It doesn't help that the two schools are within 5 miles of each other and only a couple stops away on the Green Line.


  • 24 Hours of Le Mans has lots of arch enemies, especially among cars.
    • The Jaguar D-Type was this to Mercedes-Benz 300SLR in The '50s. The infamous Le Mans Disaster didn't stop Jaguar from winning the race even though Mercedes-Benz had won the World Sportscar Championship season.
    • Ford GT40 was this to Ferrari P series as well in The '60s.
    • Many Group C cars, like Porsche 962 and Mazda 787B, are this to each other.
    • In the 2000s, it's Audi against Peugeot.
    • Now, it's Audi and Porsche against Toyota, due to fact Porsche and Audi are now under full Volkswagen ownership. So this makes Volkswagen Group against Toyota in WEC races as well as car sales.
  • World Rally Championship has a few too.
    • Mitsubishi Lancer and Subaru Impreza were this in The '90s. This also caused a massive Fandom Rivalry in the car enthusiast community with their homologated performance sedan equivalents, Lancer Evolution and Impreza WRX STI.
    • In the 2000s, it's Ford against several European manufacturers.
    • In The '80s, we have French makers competing each other - most notably Renault and Peugeot. In Group B, the fight was largely between Audi, Lancia and Peugeot.
  • Ferrari is this to the other teams in Formula One, especially to McLaren.
    • Since 2014 and the switch to hybrid engines, it's Mercedes against pretty much anyone else, particularly with Ferrari and Red Bull.
  • Ford vs Holden in Australia's Supercars Championship, which spills over to a Fandom Rivalry for non-racing cars - the mantra goes "Win on Sunday, sell on Monday."note 
  • Moto GP also has a lot of arch-enemies.
    • Italian manufacturers are this to each other in the The '50s and The '60s.
    • Since The '70s, we have (mostly) Japanese makers competing against each other.
      • In The '70s, Suzuki and Yamaha are this to each other.
      • The '80s saw Honda joining the fight.
      • Since the current Moto GP is formed in 2002, it's Honda against Yamaha, with Ducati sometimes joining the fray.
    • For the rider arch-enemies:
      • Barry Sheene against Kenny Roberts Sr. against Giacomo Agostini in The '70s.
      • The '80s to the early The '90s saw the battle between Americans Wayne Rainey & Kevin Schwantz, with Australian Wayne Gardner & fellow American Eddie Lawson joining the fray.
      • The '90s saw Mick Doohan against Alex Criville.
      • From the 2000s to now saw battles of Valentino Rossi between pretty much most of the top riders, most notably Max Biaggi, Sete Gibernau, Casey Stoner, Jorge Lorenzo, & Marc Márquez.

Rugby League

  • The New South Wales vs Queensland State Of Origin matches, the second biggest event on the Rugby League calendar after the Grand Final.


  • Any Chicago (Bears, White Sox, Bulls, Blackhawks) and Detroit (Lions, Tigers, Pistons, Red Wings) teams - Blackhawks fans in particular shout "Detroit sucks!" in every game, not only those against the Red Wings.
  • New York teams in all sports have fierce rivalries with teams from Boston and Philadelphia.
  • College arch-rivalries in general tend to be across sports and are frequently intra-state — many US states have multiple flagship universities with different backgrounds (e.g., one's focused on liberal arts and one's an engineering institution like Georgia-Georgia Tech, one's historically religious and one's secular like Brigham Young-Utah, one's public and one's private like Cal (Berkeley)-Stanford, the student bodies and faculty are markedly different in terms of average political opinion like Texas (Austin)-Texas A&M, two competing political and social groups with a vicious history of trying to run the other out of town like Alabama-Auburn, etc.)
    • Michigan State University's football and basketball teams, both called the Spartans, are each this to their University of Michigan counterparts, both called the Wolverines, and the feeling is mutual.
    • Duke vs. UNC. One of the biggest rivalries in college sports (especially men's basketball).
    • Michigan-Ohio State: This one stretches back to a border dispute in days when Michigan wasn't even a state yet (Ohio won, Michigan got the Upper Peninsula as a consolation prize). ESPN once ran an ad showing a boyfriend-girlfriend couple kissing each other while they each wore a sweatshirt with the two universities' logos. The tagline: "If it weren't for sports, this wouldn't be disgusting."
    • Cincinnati–Xavier: Hatred doesn't begin to describe this crosstown rivalry between public (UC) and Catholic (XU) schools located about 3 miles (5 km) apart. It spans all sports except football, which Xavier no longer plays, but is most vicious in men's basketball. How vicious? The 2011 game ended in a bench-clearing brawl.

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