Sydney Derby Controversies

Soon, the Sydney Derby will return to Allianz Stadium in the 36th meeting between the two sides.

It’s sure to be a feisty clash as always, so we have decided to look back to some of the fiercest and most controversial moments from the history between the two clubs.

Demolition Derby: Parts 1 & 2

Sydney FC has enjoyed some magnificent performances against Western Sydney Wanderers with the Sky Blues thrashing their local rivals on two memorable occasions. The first game was the opening match of the 2016/17 season which saw Sydney FC win by a four goal margin at Accor Stadium.

It was also witnessed by 61,880 people who flocked to the ground in anticipation of the new season and the Sky Blues didn’t disappoint. Filip Holosko opened the scoring, he also assisted debutant Bobô, while Brandon O’Neill put the game beyond doubt with a free kick and Alex Brosque netting a fourth in a show of superiority.

Brandon O’Neill celebrates his goal in the Sydney Derby

Another demolition has to be the 5-0 victory in the 2017/18 season with Adrian Mierzejewski scoring a brace, Captain Alex Brosque netting another, Brandon O’Neill curling a free-kick into the top corner and Wanderers defender Lachlan Scott nodding in a free kick into his own net.

And what made the matters more controversial is that these results both came at Accor Stadium, away from Sydney FC’s home.

Sydney fans at ANZ Stadium in 2018

Ali Abbas vs Brendon Santalab

The 2013-14 season saw Sydney FC win 3-1 against the Wanderers at Allianz Stadium with the game attracting a sell-out crowd of 40,285 fans.

It was the Sky Blues first win at home in the fixture with the second half exploding into life. Shinji Ono opened the scoring for the visitors just after the break before Mark Bridge had his penalty saved by then Sydney FC keeper Vedran Janjetovic.

Ali Abbas

Matt Jurman equalised before Richard Garcia put Sydney FC ahead and a late Ali Abbas penalty put the result beyond doubt.

The real controversy came after the final whistle with an obviously angry Abbas trying to confront Wanderers front man Brendon Santalab.  He had to be held back by both sets of players and even went as far as man-handling his own team-mates to get towards the opposition player.

Abbas later made allegations in a TV interview that his culture and religion had been abused by a Wanderers player.  The comments caused a major media storm over the next few weeks, resulting in charges of racist abuse being laid and subsequently dropped when an FFA tribunal found a lack of evidence.

The controversy certainly intensified relations between the two clubs.

Ali Abbas Knee Injury

In the very next season Ali Abbas was again at the centre of controversy when a 10th minute challenge from Wanderers midfield enforcer Iacopo La Rocca resulted in the Iraqi tearing his anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) and spending the next 12 months on the sidelines.

It was suggested post-match that two Wanderers players “high-fived” when Abbas was being taken from the field, which fuelled the bad blood between the two sides.

The Sky Blues also questioned the lack of a card for La Rocca over the tackle and why the Italian wasn’t sanctioned for the challenge at a later date.

The game ended up as a 1-1 draw with a notable Bernie Ibini strike for Sydney FC the highlight at Pirtek Stadium.

Milos Ninkovic’s transfer from Sydney FC to Western Sydney Wanderers

This came as a shock to most of the Sky Blue faithful when they found out that a player who had represented the club for seven years, playing more than 181 times and scoring 35 goals, was joining the Wanderers despite being offered a new deal to stay at Sydney FC.

During a pre-game press conference, Ninkovic proclaimed that he “deserved respect” while the club’s fans viewed him as a traitor and booed him every time he had the ball.

Milos Ninkovic playing for Sydney FC in the Derby

In the first meeting between the two teams since his move, prior to the match the Sky Blues fans displayed a tifo that stated “Legends Are Cherished. Traitors’ Legacies Will Perish” and included depiction of club legends Steve Corica, Rhyan Grant and Alex Brosque as knights in shining armour while the former fan favourite’s No.10 shirt was burning in the background.

Ninkovic was to later add to the controversy by entering the Sydney FC dressing room following a finals series defeat to the Sky Blues at CommBank Stadium.  He was summarily asked to leave and marched out by members of the club’s backroom staff with words said between the former employees.

Sydney FC’s Unbeaten Run Ended With Controversial Penalty Decision

Sydney FC were chasing invincibility in the 2016/17 season and when they played the Wanderers, they were determined to be the ones to stop the run.

The game was played Accor Stadium and 44,843 were there to witness the pulsating back and forth encounter.

Sydney FC were on course to be the first team in Australian football history to go through the season unbeaten and were expecting to extend their 19 game winning run to a record 20 matches.

Tensions rose on the pitch following the contentious decision

The fierce rivals decided to rain on the party with Brendon Santalab scoring the solitary goal of the game in the 26th minute.

However, the Sky Blues should perhaps have had an opportunity to draw level in the final minute when Wanderers defender Robbie Cornthwaite brought Sydney FC Captain Alex Brosque down in the box, but referee Chris Beath refused to call a foul despite television replays proving otherwise. This was of course in the days before VAR and the outcome could have been very different in today’s game.

A full-time melee ensued at the final whistle just seconds later as players protested to the officials, while the Wanderers fans celebrated in the background.

The Sky Blues ended the season by lifting the Premiership and Championship in the same season and would have become the Australian ‘Invincibles’ were it not for that one defeat against their rivals.

Controversial TIFO’s by fans

Derby day has often seen imaginative and creative tifos displayed by both sets of supporters.  Some have courted controversy however, with a disrespectful banner in 2017 involving Sky Blues Head Coach Graham Arnold, resulting in an apology from the Wanderers’ hierarchy.

In 2015 RBB Wanderers fans were able to locate, steal and burn a banner which the Sky Blues ‘Cove’ supporters had spent weeks designing and producing.  That didn’t go down well.

Last season Western Sydney Wanderers fans displayed a Freddie Krueger TIFO that Sydney FC fans claimed was copied and not originally produced.

The Cove have produced some of the best tifos in the history of Australian sport

Other TIFO’s have allegedly been refused permission to be taken into the ground over the years, as depictions have been less than complimentary about the opposition.

Match Details

Sydney FC v Western Sydney Wanderers
Isuzu-UTE A League Round five
Saturday, 25th November 2023
Allianz Stadium, Sydney, NSW
Kick Off: 7:45pm AEDT
Gates Open: 6:15pm AEDT
Broadcast Live: Paramount + & 10BOLD
Tickets: Click Here