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AEK Athens FC's new stadium is incredible

A 19-year wait ended a few weeks ago

AEK Athens FC's new stadium is incredible A 19-year wait ended a few weeks ago

'It seemed like a dream, it has become reality', were the words of the president of AEK Athens when he officially cut the ribbon of the Agia Sophia stadium, also known as OPAP Arena for sponsorship reasons, on 30 September. It was in fact 3 May 2003, the last time AEK played a match in what could in effect be called its stadium, the Loukas Barlos, later demolished. Not even the unhoped-for success of the Greek national team in the 2004 European Championships managed to change the game, the Greek selection, always known as the refugee team, seems destined to remain without its home for a long time. It is the various problems related to the legal aspects of the project, the reactions of local residents and the lack of resources that make the project effectively impossible. To make matters worse, in addition to the turbulent bureaucratic issues that slow down every project, in 2013 the relegation of the Greek club is also added, which does not improve the environment and finances. AEK seemed destined to play forever in the Athens Olympic Stadium until 26 January 2016 when the Attica regional administration approved the project's environmental impact study. In 2017 optimism seeps in, AEK Athens will have its stadium sooner or later, a big step forward.

The pandemic will obviously not speed things up but AEK is a strong team, tempered to this kind of bad weather and knows that waiting is the only solution. Waiting lasted 19 years and officially ended this summer with the end of construction and the building of the huge structure. The inauguration of the new stadium did not go badly either, the host team winning by 4 goals, debuting with a victory in what is considered to all intents and purposes a second cathedral. In AEK's new stadium, the concepts of belonging and identity have an even deeper meaning, everything from the interior furnishings to the structure recalling or echoing elements of Ancient Greece, enhancing the nation's rich cultural heritage. And after the new stadium, the Greek team is ready to get back on its feet by regaining the national title that has been missing since 2018, waiting for the definitive rise of Greek football.