Jeddah Derby: A Historical Perspective of This Fierce Rivalry

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In the heart of Saudi Arabia, amidst the vibrant city of Jeddah, a fierce football rivalry has captured the hearts of millions and ignited passions like no other. This is the story of the Jeddah Derby, a compelling tale of two iconic clubs, Al-Ittihad vs Al-Ahli, that has been etched into the annals of Saudi football history.

The Jeddah Derby is a famous football rivalry in Saudi Arabia and one of the most anticipated football matches in the country. It involves two of the most prominent football clubs in Saudi Arabia, Al-Ittihad and Al-Ahli, both of which are based in the city of Jeddah.

It used to be the longest-running top-flight derby in Saudi Arabian football for more than 70 years. The rivalry, which dates back to 1951, is regarded as one of the most intense and widely watched in Asia and the Arab world.  When Al-Ahli was demoted to the first division league for the first time in their history in 2022, the rivalry came to an end.

Brief History of Jeddah Derby


Al-Ittihad is one of the oldest and most successful football clubs in Saudi Arabia. The club was founded in 1927 and is known for its passionate fan base. The team has won numerous domestic and international titles, including the Saudi Professional League and the AFC Champions League

Al-Ahli :

Is another prestigious football club based in Jeddah. It was founded in 1937 and has also achieved domestic and international success. The club boasts a strong fan following and has won domestic league titles as well as the King’s Cup.

The roots of the Jeddah Derby trace back to the early 1940s when both Al-Ittihad and Al-Ahli were founded. Al-Ittihad, founded in 1927, was one of the first football clubs in Saudi Arabia. Al-Ahli established a decade later in 1937, emerged as its fierce competitor. As these two clubs gained prominence, the rivalry intensified, leading to legendary clashes on the football pitch.

Al-Ahli is a branch of Al-Ittihad, Al-Ittihad has always been sympathetic to Al-Ahli, but in confrontations, this sympathy was not shown. Al-Ittihad defeated their adversary by 9 goals in 1937. The original Al-Ahli defeated Al-Ittihad 0-9 in the friendly match between the two clubs that took place in Jeddah’s Al-Saban Stadium. The first Crown Prince Cup final between these two teams occurred in 1958 when both teams faced off against one another.

This game was watched by more than 12,000 spectators at Jeddah’s Al-Saban Stadium. Al-Ittihad won the Crown Prince Cup for the first time after defeating Al-Ahli 3-2. The Saudi League’s inaugural season, 1976–1977, featured the first league encounter between the two teams. Saad Al-Harbi and Idris Adam both scored goals as Al-Ahli prevailed 2-0. Saeed Ghurab leads all scorers with 20 goals, scoring 17 for Al-Ittihad and three for Al-Ahli. Twelve finals between the clubs have been played, with Al-Ittihad winning seven and Al-Ahli winning five.

Latest: Jeddah Derby 2023

What is Jeddah Derby?

The name “Jeddah Derby” stems from the city in which two clubs Al Ittihad and Al Ahli are based – Jeddah. The city of Jeddah, known for its cultural diversity and vibrant atmosphere, plays host to this fiercely contested fixture. The name encapsulates the geographic significance of the rivalry, as it’s not just a battle between two clubs but also a representation of the city’s pride and unity through football.

Rivalry Intensity:

The rivalry between Al-Ittihad and Al-Ahli is intense and dates back many decades. Matches between these two teams often draw large crowds and passionate support from fans. The matches are known for their competitive nature and are a highlight of the Saudi Professional League season.

Key Games:

Inaugural Encounter (1947): The first-ever official match between Al-Ittihad and Al-Ahli took place in 1947. Al-Ahli emerged victorious, setting the stage for decades of memorable encounters.

1980 King’s Cup Final: The 1980 King’s Cup final between Al-Ittihad and Al-Ahli is often cited as one of the most intense clashes in the history of the Jeddah Derby. Al-Ittihad clinched the title in a dramatic and closely fought match.

2009 AFC Champions League Quarterfinal: In the quarterfinals of the 2009 AFC Champions League, Al-Ittihad and Al-Ahli faced off in a two-legged contest. Al-Ahli managed to eliminate Al-Ittihad, marking a significant moment in the rivalry’s international stage.

2018 King’s Cup Final: The 2018 King’s Cup final between the two rivals showcased the electrifying atmosphere of the Jeddah Derby. Al-Ittihad secured a 3-1 victory, cementing their supremacy in the competition.

Unforgettable Comebacks: Over the years, the Jeddah Derby has witnessed numerous comebacks, thrilling goals, and nail-biting finishes, leaving fans on the edge of their seats.

Cultural Significance of Jeddah Derby:

Beyond football, the Jeddah Derby holds cultural significance in Saudi Arabian sports. It brings people from various backgrounds together and fosters a sense of community and pride among the people of Jeddah.

The Jeddah Derby stands as a testament to the enduring passion for football in Saudi Arabia. It’s not just a football match; it’s a cultural event that unites the people of Jeddah. The history of this rivalry is filled with iconic moments, showcasing the indomitable spirit of both Al-Ittihad and Al-Ahli. As the rivalry continues to evolve, one thing remains certain: the Jeddah Derby will continue to be a fixture that captures the hearts of football fans, not only in Jeddah but across the entire Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

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