Few would choose or even identify Corsica as a good excuse for a football trip. Located in the open expanse of the Mediterranean there is a lot to choose from in this part of the world not least Sicily, Sardinia and the Balearic Islands.

But with its picturesque gateways the island of Corsica is all those aformentioned islands and more, thanks to both French and Italian influences plus both subtle and uniquely Corsican flavours.

Old ports, Genovese architecture, nice harbours and a backdrop of colourful villages have formed over the years in the birthplace of Napoleon Bonaparte. And, once you start exploring it, Corsica is a staggeringly mountainous island that is amongst the most rugged you will find anywhere.

A Football Island?

How then, you may ask, is Corsica a football island in the same way Sicily is seen as the home of Palermo or Sardinia in its relationship with Cagliari Calcio?

Corsica is actually the home of an extremely passionate rivalry – the Derby Corse (Corsican derby).

Despite the two biggest clubs on the island being separted by a huge East/West geographical expanse, AC Ajaccio and SC Bastia have an intense rivalry.

Moreover, thanks to the proximity of the South coast of France there is a huge rivalry between Marseille, Nice and SC Bastia.

Ajaccio to the west of Corsica is the capital of the island and its largest city, as well as capital of the southern Corse-du-Sud department.

Bastia meanwhile is the second city of the island and capital of the northern Haute-Corse department.

Bastia is the gateway to Italy which sits to the east and has a totally different feel to the larger city of Ajaccio. Essentially Bastia are the most successful of the two teams both domestically and in European football.

The regional rivalry has intensified during this past 2021-22 season thanks to Ajaccio’s promotion to Ligue 1. Promotion was won ahead of Auxerre by a single point and this rivalry was intensifed thanks to SC Bastia struggling mid-table.

This seasons promotion of Ajaccio has left a bitter taste in the mouth of Bastia fans; a club whose fans who greatly outnumber Ajaccio in terms of supporter numbers and prestige. Long before Olympique Marseille tasted European success Bastia went close to European glory in 1978, losing the UEFA Cup final to PSV Eindhoven. That side was Corsican football’s greatest ever team with the likes of Claude Papi and Johnny Rep driving Bastia to the two legged final.

Bastia has also endured its own Hillsborough tragedy.

In 1992, a temporary stand erected at the Furiani stadium to accommodate extra supporters for a French Cup semi-final against Marseille collapsed shortly before kick-off, killing 18 people and injuring more than 2,000. A moving monument now stands outside the stadium near the ticket office and is a timely reminder of one of Europe’s worst football disasters.

Corsican Clubs

SC Bastia – Stade ArmandCesari

AC Ajaccio – The Stade François Coty

FC Bastia Borgo – Stade Paul-Antoniotti

Gazélec Ajaccio – Stade Ange Casanova

Gallia Club de Lucciana