KV Mechelen is the more successful football (soccer) club of Mechelen. In fact, it's Belgium's most recent winner of any European football trophy. Its ultimate victories in the 1987 –'88 European Cup Winners' Cup and the 1988 European Super Cup put the ever Dutch speaking city internationally back on the map. On the national scale, this Koninklijke Voetbalclub Mechelen (Royal Football Club Mechelen) often played in Belgian Premier League, winning three seasons in the 1940s and once again in 1988 -'89. It held the 1987 Belgian Cup and — like three times before — yielded in the 2009 Final.
Already before the turn of the century however, mainly financial problems — all but or even truly terminal in 2003, only their honourable old registration number 25 saved by numerous generous supporters pushed by local celebrity Mark Uytterhoeven — have forced KV Mechelen to give some slack. Not having received their proper license so much as threw the club into third league during the 2003 -2004 season with an additional 9 points penalty. The inspired renewed team recovered soon enough, promoting to top division in 2007.
Spiced by the politically socialist and liberal, secular origin of Koninklijke Racing Club Mechelen and the Catholic reaction that also in 1904 founded KV Mechelen, the perpetual traditional rivalry, be it not without chivalry, between Racing and KV culminates at city derbies, whenever they happen to be playing in the same Premier or more modest league.