Will derby matches unite Krakow?

Earlier this month, the mayor of Krakow and two local top division football clubs announced a photography contest devoted to the subject of the hundred-year-old rivalry between Wisla and Cracovia. The contest is called “Derby Unites Krakow,” and it corresponds with this season’s first match between the oldest clubs in Poland.

Everyone is encouraged to submit a photo, which highlights important moments for the two clubs, their emblems and their fans or players. All pictures will be rated by jurors led by Kazimierz Wegrzyn, a retired football player who had played for both clubs and now works as a television commentator.Wegrzyn and representatives of Wisla and Cracovia will rate and choose the best photographs, which will then be on display at the city’s main market square.

The exhibition will take place between October 15-28. Producer of the three best photographs will receive season tickets to stadiums of both clubs and football accessories. The contest is aimed at improving the intense rivalry between Cracovia and Wisla. Many fans dislike each other, which often times results in brawls during and after games. Every derby match between the teams brings police to the highest level of mobilization. The photo contest is a part of a “100 years of fair play in Krakow” program guided by the city council.

During its first edition, Cracovia and Wisla players visited schools together and took part in Physical Education lessons. Cracovia and Wisla are Poland’s oldest football clubs, both established in 1906 (the former a few months earlier). Social differences were often a reason for mischief between supporters of the two clubs.

During the Communist era police sponsored Wisla, while Cracovia (mostly popular among fans of Jewish descent) received almost no help from authorities. Cracovia, who was close to bankruptcy and spent many years in the lower divisions, has come back to the top flight since 2004.

Wisla’s last decade was the most successful in the club’s entire history, winning five championships since 1997. Matches between the two teams are properly branded “The Holy War” and usually are the most important sporting events in Krakow. To this day, they have played 173 matches against each other: Wisla winning 76 games, Cracovia winning 58, and 39 of them being draws.

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