SV Darmstadt 98 is a German association football club based in Darmstadt, Hesse. The club was founded on 22 May 1898 as FC Olympia Darmstadt. Early in 1919 the association was briefly known as Rasen-Sportverein Olympia before merging with Darmstädter Sport Club 1905 on 11 November that year to become Sportverein Darmstadt 98. Merger partner SC was the product of a 1905 union between Viktoria 1900 Darmstadt and Germania 1903 Darmstadt. The footballers are today part of a sports club which also offers its approximately 1,200 members athletics, basketball, cheerleading, hiking, judo, and table tennis.
Olympia played as a lower table side in the Westkreisliga between 1909 and 1913. In the late 20s and early 30s the club played as SV Darmstadt in the Kreisliga Odenwald and Bezirksliga Main-Hessen, Gruppe Hesse, but struggled to stay in top flight competition. In 1933, German football was reorganized under the Third Reich into sixteen premier divisions known as Gauligen. Darmstadt was not able to break into upper league play until 1941 when they joined the Gauliga Hessen-Nassau, Gruppe 2. Their stay was short-lived and they were relegated after their second season of play at that level. By 1944–45 the division had collapsed in the face of the advance of Allied armies into Germany.
Darmstadt enjoyed a long run as a second division team through the 50s and then again from the time of the formation of the Bundesliga in 1963 on into the 70s. However, they were never better than a lower to mid-table side until they finally managed a breakthrough in 1973 with a Regionalliga Süd championship and participation in the promotion rounds for the Bundesliga where they finished a distant second to Rot-Weiß Essen.
Rise to the Bundesliga and fall to insolvency
A side with limited resources, Darmstadt eventually managed two seasons in the Bundesliga (1978–79 and 1981–82). They narrowly missed a third turn in the top league in 1988 when they lost in a lengthy promotion playoff to SV Waldhof Mannheim in extra time of the third match between the two clubs. After returning to the second tier, they escaped relegation to the Amateur Oberliga Hessen (III) in 1991 when Essen was refused a 2.Bundesliga license for financial reasons. However, by 1997, SV had themselves become victims of financial mismanagement, slipping to the III and IV divisions.
The team's most recent successes include wins in the Hessen Pokal (Hessen Cup) in 1999, 2001, 2006, 2007 and 2008 as well as three consecutive Possmann-Hessen Cup wins from 2000 to 2002. In the German CupDarmstadt advanced as far as the third round in 1989 and 2001, and to the quarterfinals in 1986. In 2004 the club claimed the Oberliga Hessen (IV) championship under manager and ex-player Bruno Labaddia and were promoted to the Regionalliga Süd (III).
Financial problems limited their options and they were relegated to the Oberliga Hessen (IV) at the end of the 2006–07 season. The club's stated aim was to reach the new 3rd Bundesliga within five years. However, on 6 March 2008 Darmstadt entered insolvency proceedings with debts of about € 1.1 million  making the future of the club uncertain. After the 2007–08 Oberliga Hessen-Championship, Darmstadt played in the Regionalliga Süd. Darmstadt took various measures to avert bankcruptcy, for example a friendly benefit match against Bayern Munich, donations etc., but former persons involved with the club (e.g. former president, former tax advisor) made vital financial contributions which secured the club's future.
Since winning the 2010–11 Regionalliga Süd, Darmstadt have played in the 3. Liga. In the 2012-13 season the club was initially relegated but Hessian rival Kickers Offenbach was refused a 3. Liga licence for the new season and relegated to the Regionalliga instead. SV Darmstadt 98 took Offenbach's place.