Today I will talk about the Green Rivalry between Salavat Yulaev Ufa and Ak Bars Kazan, their marketing inventions and more.
Some say the Red Army Rivalry between SKA St.Petersburg and CSKA Moscow is the biggest hockey derby in the KHL. Others disagree, considering the clash between Salavat Yulaev Ufa and Ak Bars Kazan, the so-called Green Rivalry, as the most heated and popular hockey derby in Russia.
Tatarstan and Bashkortostan as Neighbouring Regions
Let me begin with a geographical introduction of the teams. Salavat Yulaev Ufa is located in the city of Ufa, the capital of the Republic of Bashkortostan. Ak Bars Kazan is obviously located in the beautiful city of Kazan, which is the capital of the Republic of Tatarstan. Both regions, or republics, border each other.
So both regions have their own history, culture, language, heroes, traditions and habits. If speaking about religion, besides the Russian Orthodox, Islam is widespread there.
Of course, both hockey clubs are very popular in their region. They are more than just a club, they are a symbol of a republic and a nation. People are very proud of them. Therefore, it is understandable why both clubs are connected with the local political life and the business community. Usually, a leader of a republic has a formal or informal role in a club’s governing structure.
The Logo, Special Jerseys & the Chak-Chak Cup
Why the ‘Green Rivalry’? Look at the flags of Tatarstan and Bashkortostan. A green colour dominates both. And of course, both clubs’ jerseys are green as well.
Both clubs try to develop this rivalry and market it properly. Last year, they introduced the logo of the Green Rivalry. It is the first logo of its kind in the Russian sport.
The KHL scheduled six Green Rivalry games this season. The first match was played on October 19th in Ufa and Salavat Yulaev won 3-1. They will also meet on November 24th (Ufa), December 19th (Kazan), December 23rd (Davos, Switzerland), January 23rd (Kazan) and February 25th (Kazan).
This season the clubs developed the special alternative jerseys for the Green Rivalry. They introduced them before the first match. There are words written by national heroes and poets of Tatarstan and Bashkortostan respectively on those jerseys (on the neck). They are Salavat Yulaev, the Bashkir national hero, poet and singer (the Ufa club holds his name), and Ğabdulla Tuqay, who was a Tatar poet, a classic of the Tatar literature, a critic and a publisher. Tuqay is often referred to as the founder of the modern Tatar literature and the modern Tatar literary language. Their words are written in Russian on the jerseys in order to be understandable to every Russian, but some people would prefer their original words in Tatar and Bashkir languages instead.
Moreover, the Green Rivalry has its own trophy this season- the Chak-chak Cup. Chak-chak (or Çäkçäk) is a sweet, popular in Tatarstan and Bashkortostan. It is such a unique trophy for the game of hockey and the sport overall. The Chak-chak Cup is awarded to a winner of the Green Rivalry after every match.
The Green Rivalry in Davos
Salavat Yulaev and Ak Bars will meet on December 23rd in Davos, Switzerland. It will be a match under the brand of the KHL World Games. Both teams will use the same alternative jerseys as they used in the first clash of this season. Salavat Yulaev Ufa, as the home team plans to introduce their Bashkir culture and history to the Swiss fans during the game. So the match will have an educational purpose as well.
There has been an unofficial rumour that both teams will meet under the KHL World Games branding in Davos, Switzerland in the 2020-21 season again. The only difference should be that Ak Bars Kazan will be the hosting team, so the club considers presenting their Tatarstan culture as well. I would not be surprised if that game was played just before the Spengler Cup 2020 with Ak Bars participating at the tournament. Salavat Yulaev will play at the Spengler Cup 2019, so just days after the KHL World Games. It is one reason for holding the event in Davos, because the KHL needs a reliable partner (HC Davos) to organise such a game outside their territory. Reportedly, that was not the case with ZSC Lions in Zűrich last year.
Finally, if you wish to watch the highlights of the first Green Rivalry of the 2019-20 season, you can do so below. This game is memorable for the fight between captains Linus Omark and Danis Zaripov. It was the 700th KHL game for Zaripov.
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Feature Image Credit: (Photo by Yegor Aleyev\TASS via Getty Images)