On a typical Sunday afternoon there are few more pleasant places than the Danish capital.  

Copenhagen, Denmark’s capital, sits on the coastal islands of Zealand and Amager.  It is linked to Malmo in Sweden by the seemingly endless Öresund Bridge.

The city’s historic center contains Frederiksstaden, an 18th-century rococo district that is home to the royal family’s Amalienborg Palace.   Nearby is Christiansborg Palace and the Renaissance era Rosenborg Castle – surrounded by gardens and home to the crown jewels. 

Deep in the heart of Copenhagen the latest installment in the most embittered football rivalry in Scandinavia is about to take place.  At Telia Parken home of the Danish national team, the crown jewels of Danish football, are meeting.

FC København vs Brøndby

Danish Superligaen

Sunday 5th May 2019

Telia Parken, Copenhagen

Following the 2015/16 season, the Danish Super league was expanded to 14 teams. This made the 2016/17 Danish Superliga season the first for a new league structure.  At the seasons end the league is split into a play off type structure.

Via a variety of mini league formats clubs face off to each other to decide final league positions and European places.

In the championship play-off tournament each team plays the others home and away.  

The top team at the end of the play-off system is crowned champion and enters the Champions League. The second-place team meanwhile enters the Europa League or the Conference League.

This set up means that end of season fixtures can see tension and rivalry heightened to extreme levels. 

Such is often the tension between the big two from the capital it is not what happens on the pitch that garners most attention.

Recent seasons have seen wild scenes erupting in the stands.  Despite huge police efforts and appeals for calm riot police have got involved breaking up trouble whenever the two meet. The mayors office meanwhile has stepped in – at times banning away fans from fixtures.

However, while the police have not been slow to ban supporters from stadiums fewer countries have such progressive approach to Pyro displays.

Several initiatives have been launched in an effort to introduce ‘safe’ pyrotechnic devices inside the stadium acceptable to both authorities and fans. 

One pilot project saw a Danish lab trial the creation of flares that produced a massive 1,500°C less in heat than the regular “bengalos” used by supporters.   Another trial was run that saw devices which released 90% less smoke than regular ones tested.  This factor was deemed crucial for live TV broadcasts where several Copenhagen derby matches have had kick off delayed due to pyrotechnic displays.

Despite the considered discussion between all parties, pyrotechnic use inside Danish stadiums is still not fully legal but compromises are clearly tolerated despite pressure from broadcast partners. 

It is not uncommon to see the use of the pyrotechnic materials before and during games. 

Many fans do still fear stadium bans from police thanks to retrospective CCTV camera use.  This has resulted in many supporters wearing full head balaclava type masks when using a flare as a means of concealing identities.

Celtic and Glasgow Rangers have a deep rooted football rivalry that goes back to the late 19th century.

The old firm rivalry is a deeply complex one that is tied up with the history of Northern Ireland and the Irish Republic  

The Copenhagen ‘new firm’ rivalry is a more of a modern hatred that has festered out of embittered arguments regarding club ‘foundations’.

FC Copenhagen are both an old and a new club if you like.  

Even though the club was established in 1992, it is a club rooted in more than 100 years of football tradition since club officially represents two separate clubs – Kjøbenhavns Boldklub and Boldklubben 1903. 

These two Copenhagen clubs merged their first teams to establish FC Copenhagen on 1 July 1992.

Brøndbyernes Idrætsforening was founded on 3 December 1964 as a merger between two small clubs. These were Brøndbyvester IF founded in 1909 and Brøndbyøster IF who had roots in 1928.

The club was a broad sports association, including branches in football, handball, gymnastics and badminton.  In 1971 the club was split off into clubs for each individual sport and Brondby football retained the name of Brøndbyernes Idrætsforening.

Before FCK arrived on the scene Brondby IF were Danish football’s major football side both at home in Denmark and abroad.

Throughout the second half of the 1980’s the team from Western Copenhagen dominated the domestic league and did not finish lower than second until 1992.   The club became used to winning the national domestic title and competed in Europe against the likes of Bayern Munich.

Then along came the new boys of FC Copenhagen.

Regular European football was slow to arrive at FCK the club is now a consistent participant in the UEFA Europa League and Champions League competitions. 

Brondby meanwhile have not qualified for the Group Stages of any UEFA competition since 2006 when they appeared in the old UEFA Cup Group stages.  Domestically the dominance of FCK has been telling with Brondby more often than off the pace and in the shadow of its neighbors.

On a slightly cold Danish afternoon 1,800 Brondby fans step off the suburban train line at Svanemollen. 

The train station platforms are full of yellow and blue smoke as they step off. Locals look on as the hostile group arrive to walk towards the Telia Parken.

The waiting police party is huge meaning that there is absolutely no chance of any visiting fans getting anywhere near to home supporters.  Still 90 minutes to kick off the large group are herded into a fenced off section behind the ground which is partly secluded from full public view thanks to trees from the neighboring public park.

The teams were welcomed onto the field by an extraordinary display of flags and pyrotechnics from both sets of fans.  The referee Mads-Kristoffer Kristoffersen delayed kick-off for about 4 minutes before events got underway in an incredibly fast paced fixture.

In only 6 minutes Brondby took the lead through left sided midfielder Simon Tibbling.

But FCK were quickly back into a stride hitting back with two goals the first on 10 minutes from Skov and another from N’Doye not two minutes later.

The visual spectacle of the derby was on display again as half two commenced.

Another set of choreographed displays met both teams as they entered the field for the second half. 

Not 10 minutes later an O.G. from Vavro brought the teams level before man of the match Rasmus Falk slotted home the clincher.

If awards were given for visual appeal, passion and colour this derby is high up the list of Europe’s finest. 

Against a backdrop of inner city squabbling, club disagreement and bitterness both FCB and Brondby continue to offer fans a wonderfully eye opening football event.

FC Copenhagen: Joronen, Boilesen, Bjellend, Vavro, Ankersen, Skov, Zeca, Rasmus Falk Jensen (Papagiannopolous), Fischer, Older Wind (Thomsen), N’Doye

Brondby IF: Schwabe, Mensah, Arajuuri, Hermannsson, Gammelby (Uhre), Tibbling (Halimi), Radosevic, Kaiser (Erceg), Wilczek, Hany Mukhtar, Hedlund

Fans: 33,190