“George Karaiskakis” Stadium



The “George Karaiskakis” stadium was built in 1895 as a ‘velodrome’ (Cycling stadium) for the 1896 Olympic Games. The velodrome was first used as a football stadium in 1920 and 40 years later, in 1960, was totally renovated and turned into a real stadium for football and track & field athletics. This is when it was named “G. Karaiskakis Stadium” in memoriam of the great Greek fighter, George Karaiskakis, who died close to the stadium during the Hellenic Revolution in 1821.

The “G. Karaiskakis” stadium hosted the 1969 European Track and Field Championship, the Hellenic Cup Finals and the 1971 Cup Winner’s Cup. Proodeftiki and Ethnikos have also used the stadium as their home pitch, but OLYMPIACOS F.C. is the club that has linked its name to the “Georgios Karaiskakis Stadium” - and made history.

The brand new “G. Karaiskakis” Stadium was built on the same spot as the historical one which had been the home of OLYMPIACOS F.C. for many decades. The old stadium was demolished in May 2003 and in 14 months (in a record time of 428 days to be exact), the new, ultramodern and football-only stadium, with a capacity of 32,115 fully sheltered seats, was built.

The design for the construction includes both the main building and sports facilities and the surrounding area. The curved design of the stands ensures first-rate quality, whereas special attention was given to the designing of the pitch, the lighting and the sound system of the stadium, in combination with the roof. It is worth noting that despite the initial sixty million euro investment in the construction of the new Karaiskakis stadium, twenty million of which came from the club’s own funds, with the rest coming from bank loans, additional works amounting to another two million euros were undertaken last year to further improve the stadium's security and the level of service provided to the fans.

Sunday 8th February 1981 was a bright, sunny day, just like any other day for the football supporters of OLYMPIACOS F.C. Match Day 20, and the Reds were hosting a game against AEK, who were two points behind in the championship table.

The stadium was packed and all tickets had sold out. Everyone was in a good mood, chanting, and nothing could suggest the tragic events that were to follow. Kick off was at 15.15. 

The game turned out to be a win for OLYMPIACOS F.C., who beat AEK 6-0: three goals by Galakos (30’, 53’, 84’), one by Koussoulakis (68’), one by Orfanos (75’) and one by Vamvakoulas (80’). The crowd was more than excited. Filled with enthusiasm, the fans who were located at the stadium’s Gate 7 tried to rush out in order to reach Gate 1 and cheer the triumphant team. Then disaster struck.

The exit door was locked, or according to other testimonies, slightly open and there were too many fans. One of the fans, who were running cheerfully towards the exit door, tripped and fell on the steps. Dozens of people fell onto each other and were trampled by the waves of fans who kept coming, completely unaware that anything was wrong. As a result, twenty one people who attended the game -just to enjoy their beloved team- died that day and many more were injured.

21 victims in the tragedy of February the 8th 1981:
Panagiotis Toumanidis, 14 years old
Kostas Sklavounis, 16 years old
Ilias Panagoulis, 17 years old
Gerasimos Amitsis, 18 years old (AEK supporter)
Yiannis Kanellopoulos, 18 years old
Spiros Leonidakis, 18 years old
Yiannis Spiliopoulos, 19 years old
Nikos Filos, 19 years old
Yiannis Dialinas, 20 years old
Vassilis Mahas, 20 years old
Efstratios Loupos, 20 years old
Michalis Kostopoulos, 21 years old
Zografoula Hairatidou, 23 years old
Spiros Andriotis, 24 years old
Kostas Karanikolas, 26 years old
Michalis Markou, 27 years old
Kostas Bilas, 28 years old
Anastassios Pitsolis, 30 year old
Antonis Kouroupakls, 34 years old
Christos Hatzigeorgiou, 34 years old
Dimitris Adamopoulos, 40 years old

Source: http://www.olympiacos.org/stadium-new-karaiskaki