Back in time, we can find out that AEK fans’ anti racist identity is strictly connected with the very origin of the team. In November 1924 the team played its first game ever, a friendly against Olympiakos Piraeus. The club had been founded some months before by Istanbul Greek refugees from the Greco-Turkish war of 1919-1922.
In the aftermath of the Great War and the definitive fall of the Ottoman Empire, this local but long and bloody conflict was fought. At the end of it, one of the biggest double deportations of European history was carried out. Turkish and Greek governments agreed on having a big population exchange in which 1.5 million of Anatolian Greeks were sent off from Turkey, and 400,000 people with the Muslim faith had to leave Greece. Both peoples involved had to leave the land in which they had lived for centuries, just because of their ethnic origin or religion.
Many of the Anatolian Greek refugees went to live in Athens, building new neighborhoods and starting a new life. The kafeneia (pubs) of the capital were filled by these uprooted people, who faced their nostalgia drinking, dancing and even creating a new musical genre, called Rebetiko, which has been defined as a sort of Greek Blues.
A club born from immigration
Some of these refugees founded football clubs. The most important club of Athens up until now is black-and-yellow AEK. Its name is the acronym of Athlitikí Énosis Konstantinoupόleos, Athletic Union of Constantinople, the Greek name that the city of Istanbul had since the Romans made it the capital of the Empire, rebuilding the city of Byzantium in 330 AD. AEK’s logo, the two-headed eagle, was the symbol of the Paleologue dynasty, the last Byzantine emperors.
The club has always kept its “immigrant identity”, and the strong antiracist and antifascist feelings of its fans are a direct consequence of it. Today it is mostly known for its football and basketball teams, but more than 20 other sports are played in the kitrinomavra (black-and-yellow) colours.
AEK Athens was founded by immigrants, and this identity made its fans develop strong anti racist and anti fascist feelings. Do you know any teams of immigrant origin in your country? How does that club combat racism?
Find out more
You can find more informations on AEK’s history inthis article, from Football History magazine, or in the official AEK FC site. The movie Rembetiko (1983) will bring you into some atmosphere of the Anatolian Greek refugees of the Greco-Turkish war. Here and heresome articles about the murder of Michalis Katsouris.