Thursday, January 17, 2008

Greek rivalries turn deadly

In the summer of 2006, I went on a Mediterranean cruise with my family. When we got to Greece, we were in the port of Piraeus, the closest port to Athens. We planned to do the touristy things and climb to the top of the Parthenon, believing we would see more of the city than if we took a bus straight up there. I wore my trusty Charleston Battery shirt, figuring no-one else would be wearing one.

This is the shirt and no, that's not me modeling it.

We walked from the cruise ship to a bus stop, and took a bus into the center of Piraeus. While we were hunting down the train station, I noticed that I was getting a lot of attention paid to me. I was getting jostled right and left, and just generally felt uncomfortable. It came to a head when my wife and I were crossing a street at a crosswalk. A guy, about 40 years old, looking bedraggled and visibly missing teeth, stared me down from across the way. As we crossed, he moved right at me, never blinking. I kept my eye on him and followed his movements until he got right up in front of me. He looked closely at the badge on the shirt, relaxed and kept walking.

I had inadvertently worn the wrong colors in the wrong town. Piraeus is the home of Olympiakos Piraeus, who play in a red and white striped kit. I had worn the colors of AEK Athens, a blood rival of the local club.

AEK's kit. Notice the resemblance?

The ill-feelings I had gotten were real. It had been the equivalent of wearing a Yankees jersey into a Boston sports bar. Well, a Yankees lookalike jersey, but still.

I give you this story as a background for how being in the wrong place in the wrong jersey while in Greece can be dangerous. It can get you killed. Two Olympiakos fans were stabbed, one fatally, after a cup win over Panathinaikos this week. Police deny that the stabbings were football related, but with that country's track record, I would be suspicious. Especially as the deceased had been in trouble for football related violence before.

Today's lesson, then, is don't fuck with a Greek's football club. Trust me, you don't want to face the potential consequences.

1 comment:

Bigus Dickus said...

No one should ever wear an Ipswich shirt in Norwich either!

Great story.