‘Pont’ous opening of AEK F.C. new home


AEK Athens opens new stadium Image: AEK Athens FC (Facebook)

Memories of Pontus (pre-Olympian Sea-God, one of the Greek primordial deities) and Asia Minor dominated the spectacular opening of the new football station of Greek soccer club AEK F.C. recently in Athens, Greece.

‘Greek Reporter’ stated that more than 30,000 fans gathered at the OPAP Arena in the Athenian suburb of Nea Filadelfeia, Greece, to watch a dazzling display of song and dance that brought back memories of Hellenism (new wave of Greek colonization which established Greek Cities and kingdoms in Asia and Africa) that was uprooted 100 years ago by the Turks.

Asia Minor includes the whole or part of the modern day countries of Italy, Greece, Albania, Macedonia, Bulgaria, Turkey, Egypt, Libya, Israel, and Lebanon. The ancient kingdoms of Asia Minor, many of which was Greek colonies or heavily influenced by the ancient Greek culture.

AEK Athens F.C. is a Greek professional football club based in Nea Filadelfeia, a suburb of Athens, Greece.

The Agia Sophia Stadium, also known by its commercial name OPAP Arena, is the home stadium of AEK Athens F.C., with an all-seater capacity of 32,500. It is located in Nea Filadelfeia, a northwestern suburb of Athens, Greece, and opened on September 30th, 2022.

‘Greek Reporter’ further stated that AEK Athens was established in Athens in 1924 by Greek refugees from Constantinople, Smyrna and Pontus. The OPAP Arena was also given the symbolic name of Hagia Sophia in honor of the great Orthodox Cathedral in Constantinople, today’s Istanbul (Turkey), which was turned into a mosque.

A Pontian war dance called Pyrrhichios was one of the highlights of the evening. A dancing group performed the best-known war dance of the Greeks. It was probably of Dorian origin and practiced at first solely as training for war. According to ancient sources, it was a weapon dance.

Pontus-Asia Minor Parade

Groups representing the Greeks of Asia Minor, Cappadocia, Constantinople, Pontus, and Thrace wearing traditional costumes paraded in the new stadium holding banners while presenters of the show named each and every City in the region dominated by Greeks that were uprooted in 1922 to 1923.

The refugees’ journey from Asia Minor and Pontus to Greece was symbolically re-enacted in a spectacular show by hundreds of artistes on the football field.

AEK sans home ground for 19 years

Construction on an all-new purpose-built stadium began on July 28th, 2017, at the site of the old Nikos Goumas Stadium. It has a capacity of approximately 30,000 and features a unique underground road system that the teams can use to enter the stadium.

The 24,729-capacity Nikos Goumas Stadium was a multipurpose stadium in Nea Filadelfeia, a Northwestern suburb of Athens, Greece. It was used mostly for football matches and was the home stadium of AEK Athens F.C. It is now replaced by the Agia Sophia Stadium built at the same site.

The previous soccer ground Nikos Goumas Stadium served as AEK’s home ground since 1930. The stadium suffered severe damages from the 1999 earthquake and was demolished in 2003 with the prospect of building a new stadium for AEK FC. Prolonged obstruction, legal issues and tight deadlines contributed to the postponement of the new stadium opening.

For 19 years, the historic club was forced to play its home games at various soccer grounds in Athens and mainly in the 70,000-capacity ‘Spyros Louis’ (Athens Olympic Stadium).

AEK is one of the three most successful teams in Greek football (including Olympiacos F.C. and Panathinaikos F.C.), winning 30 national titles and the only one to have won all the competitions organized by the Hellenic Football Federation (12 Championships, 15 Greek Cups, one League Cup, and two Super Cups).

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