Tribal Football Rivalries – Galatasaray Vs Fenerbahce (Intercontinental Derby)

The Intercontinental Derby or Ezternal Derby is one of the biggest and most intense local rivalries in football history, between Turkish sides Galatasaray and Fenerbahce.

The Super Lig duo are the two most successful teams in Turkish football history, with Galatasaray boasting 20 league titles and Fenerbahce lagging behind with 19.

The rivalry between the two Istanbul clubs is over 108 years-old and the first meeting dates back to January 1909. Galatasaray won the friendly 2-0 and went onto win the intercontinental derby in the first 8 fixtures, without conceding.

Fenerbahce earned their first derby win in January 1914 and have won the most derbies with 146 wins compared to Galatasaray’s 122 wins. However, Gala boast the more Super Lig titles and also won the UEFA Cup and Super Cup in 2000.

There’s a strong historic political background between both clubs and they also came close to merging together to form the Turkish Club in 1912. Football hooliganism is regular at the Intercontinental derby and the rivalry also extends to other sports such as basketball, athletics, rowing and volleyball.

The hatred and passion shared on the opposing rival from both sets of supporters has also overstepped the on several occasions. The effects of derby day reverberate not only throughout Istanbul but the whole of Turkey.


Galatasaray were founded in 1905 and joined the Istanbul League the following year for the 1906/07 league season. Fenerbahce were established in 1907 and made their Istanbul League debut in 1909.

Gala didn’t feature in the 1911/12 season and offered several players to their fiercest rivals. This offer was declined by Fenerbahce but the pair nearly merged into one big Turkish super club, which was going to be called the Turkish club.

Fenerbahce president Galip Kulaksizoglu and Galatasaray president Ali Sami Yen agreed a deal to form the two clubs together. However, once the petition and plan was in progress, their ambitions were thwarted by the start of the Balkan Wards in 2013.

The first meeting took place in January 1909 and Galatasaray won the game 2-0. The lions also won the first ever competitive Intercontinental derby in 1910 and won the first 8 fixtures altogether, scoring 28 and without conceding a single goal.

Fenerbahce earned their first derby win in January 1914, with a 4-2 victory. They went onto win 16 of the next 23 derbies and gain dominance in the Intercontinental derby. Fenerbahce hold the record for the most wins with 146 and Galatasaray have only won 122 of the derbies.

Galatasaray won by the biggest goals margin when they enjoyed a 7-0 victory in February 1911. They also hold the record for the longest winning streak since the rivalry begun with 8 consecutive wins.

However, Fenerbahce have had the longest unbeaten run, which lasted 18 matches. The domestic title race in very narrow in Turkey, with Galatasaray currently ahead of Fenerbahce by just one Super Lig title.

The lions have been more successful in Europe, winning the UEFA Cup and Super Cup in 2000. Fenerbahce are ahead on the head-to-head record against Galatasaray but behind on the amount of honours in their trophy cabinet.

Former Galatasaray goalkeeper Turgay Seren holds the record for the most appearances against Fenerbahce. He spent his entire career at Gala and featured in an unbelievable 54 Intercontinental derbies!

Fenerbahce legend Zeki Riza Sporel has scored the most goals in the derby. He scored 470 goals in 352 appearances for the blue and yellows, scoring 27 of them against Galatasaray.

Tribal History

Galatasaray were founded by High School students in 1905 and Fenerbahce were founded by local men in the district of Kadikoy on the Asian side of Istanbul in 1907. Gala made their Istanbul debut in 1906 and the yellow and blues swiftly followed in 1909.

The founders of Galatasaray were considered representatives of the higher class in Istanbul. They were generally supported by aristocrats, who see themselves as the highest ranked class.

Fenerbahce’s founders were local working men, perceived to be in the lower class in Istanbul. There was a huge division in class in the early phases of the derby but Fenerbahce tended to attract supporters from all over Turkey due to their bravery in war and for winning the first ever major Turkish title.

Both fan bases are currently from all different social backgrounds and the pair’s fans are now from all over the world. When both teams joined the Istanbul league, it was mainly made up English, Greek and Armenian minorities living in Turkey. The duo established Turkish superiority in their domestic league and set the tone for future Turkish clubs.

In February 1934, unexpected riots spilled onto the pitch, and involved players, supporters and staff. What was supposed to be a friendly match, soon spiralled out of control and the referee was forced to abandon the game.

Former Galatasaray manager Graeme Souness also caused outrage in the 1996 Turkish Cup final. The lions had endured a poor season and Souness was mocked and highly criticised by several Fenerbahce associates. They surprisingly won over the two legs and the former Liverpool player decided to stick a Galatasaray flag on the centre-line of Fenerbahce’s pitch. This caused outrage from the Fenerbahce supporters but he was deemed a hero by his fellow fans.

The rivalry stepped over the line in May 2013 when a 19-year-old Fenerbahce fan was stabbed to death by a Galatasaray hooligan. This was a very dark chapter in the history of one of the most capturing, exciting and passionate tribal football rivalries in the history of the game.

Head-to-Head Record

Teams Wins Draws Goals League Titles
Fenerbahce 146 117 508 19
Galatasaray 122 117 457 20

Fenerbahce hold the record for the most wins in the Intercontinental derby with 24 more wins than Galatasaray. The score-line has ended level on 117 occasions and Fenerbahce have scored 508 goals compared to Gala’s record of 457.

Galatasaray are more successful on the domestic and European front, with 20 titles and their UEFA Cup and Super Cup success in 2000. The lions have also won 17 Turkish cups, whereas the yellow and blues have only won the cup on 6 occasions.

Find out more…

Wikipedia – Fenerbahce-Galatasaray Rivalry

BBC Sport – Derby postponed for security reasons

George Bennett

My name is George Bennett, I'm 19-years-old and I'm the founder and administrator for GB Articles Football Blog. I've been writing from the age of 12-years-old and decided to create my own blog to spread my passion for the beautiful game. The blog was created in May 2016 and I've began to assemble a talented group of writers since April 2017. I mainly cover the Premier League, although I also base some reports on the Italian Serie A, Spanish La Liga, German Bundesliga and more!

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