As someone from one of the rare non-soccer countries, I’m constantly learning about the sheer scope and intensity that the game has worldwide. Algeria is a particularly football-crazy nation, especially with the biggest match: the Algiers Derby. This game is played between two local teams, MC Alger and USM Alger – both of which date to before WWII and were founded as Muslim Algerian teams to counter the French colonial control of the game. The two teams have deep political and national meaning to Algerians, and continue to play a very active role in Algerian political movements today.
Let’s start with a primer on the Derby itself – both the size of the crowd and the general lack of animosity between the fans are totally astounding to me (especially compared to British hooligans).
Compare that game from 2017 with the Derby in 2019, in which the overwhelming majority of the normally diehard fans boycotted the game in favour of pro-democracy protests – part of the Hirak Movement, which is still ongoing as of today.
A full-crowd version of La Casa del Mouradia, with an English translation and interpretation of the lyrics available here.
Oh, and I guess there’s also a soccer game!