Independiente vs Racing Club: A Story of Hatred, Noisy Neighbours & 7 Black Cats

Max Cooper
Empty Soccer Stadiums of Buenos Aires During Coronavirus Pandemic
Empty Soccer Stadiums of Buenos Aires During Coronavirus Pandemic / Getty Images/Getty Images

The Avellaneda Derby is one of 90min's 50 Biggest Derbies in the World

The Avellaneda derby might not be the biggest in Argentina, but it may well be the best.

Sure, we've all heard of Boca Juniors and River Plate, and everyone is aware of just what's at stake when those two tribes go to war. But if it could be possible, then Independiente versus Racing Club may mean more to its loyal followers.

The two stadiums are separated by 300 metres - homes to two neighbours who have been at each other's throats since they laid eyes on one another. And their paths first crossed on 9 June 1907, a fixture which los Diablos Rojos won by three goals to two.

Empty Soccer Stadiums of Buenos Aires During Coronavirus Pandemic
Empty Soccer Stadiums of Buenos Aires During Coronavirus Pandemic / Getty Images/Getty Images

But it wasn't until 1915 that genuine animosity and bad blood reared its ugly head between the duo, when a 2-1 success for Independiente was overturned in court, after the Red Devils were accused of fielding an ineligible player.

Racing were awarded the victory instead, and the points were enough for La Academia to clinch the title. And it was the Academy, along with the usual powerhouses, who dominated Argentinian football during the first half of the 20th century, winning 15 league titles until 1966.

Racing were ready to become a true force in South America, and having opened their glorious 'Cilindro' stadium in 1950, the foundations were in place to take Argentina by storm. But their fortune and success quickly dried up.

And that's where Independiente come in. Racing had just lifted the Intercontinental Cup, beating the brilliant Celtic team of 1967 in 'the battle of Montevideo', which bore witness to six red cards over the course of the 90 minutes.

Now on top of the world, Racing were the envy of every club in South America, and rivals Independiente simply couldn't sleep peacefully with their noisy neighbours living the luxurious lifestyle of football royalty.

So los Diablos Rojos lived up to their moniker, and conjured a horrific and devilish act against la Academia. That very day when Racing conquered the world in Uruguay, Independiente supporters travelled the short 300 metres to their neighbour's property, and buried seven black cats under one of the entrances to the stadium.

Yep, you read that correctly.

Superstition or not, the curse took hold of the club, and mysteriously, they have only won three league titles since that famous success in Montevideo. In fact, Racing were even relegated from the top flight in 1980, and having finally recovered from that disaster, they were almost robbed of their first title for almost 40 years in 2001.

Boca Culture in Buenos Aires
Boca Culture in Buenos Aires / Marco Di Lauro/Getty Images

La Academia looked sent to end their long drought in the 2001 Superliga campaign, but the league was suspended due to the economic crisis which crippled Argentina. Fortunately, the fixtures were eventually completed, and Racing achieved their first domestic triumph since 1966.

And while Racing were wondering how to shake this curse, Independiente wasted no time in becoming the new cock of the walk, adding nine Superliga trophies to their previous seven successes.

So, unlike many rivalries, this hatred was not born from contrasting political views, nor from a social disdain or even differences in financial wealth . This is the story of two neighbours who can't stand each other - and they will do whatever it takes to come out on top.

And as with any passionate dislike, there can be short tempers. And when there are short tempers, violence and chaos often ensues. The Avellaneda derby is no exception.

Emotions boiled over in 1961, when trouble in the stands seeped onto the pitch, and the referee had to halt the match for six minutes while he tried to regain control of the spiralling situation. Ultimately, the man in the middle dished out an unbelievable seven red cards over the 90 minutes - three for Racing and four for Independiente.

And a meeting in 2006 proved to be just as controversial, when irate Racing supporters clashed violently with police in the stadium, with their side trailing 2-0 to a young Sergio Aguero masterclass. The referee saw no other option than to suspend play, and the stars left the pitch with the game reaching a premature end.

Independiente were awarded the victory after the incident, and Racing fans were banned from travelling to away matches for a number of weeks for their part in the ugly scenes.

But while the occasion is always hostile and heated, the beauty of the derby outweighs the imperfections. And while the eyes of the world often fix upon Boca Juniors and River Plate, the heart of Argentina beats for Independiente and Racing, and the historic Avellaneda derby.