Aris Thessaloniki was founded in 1914 in Votsi an area close to the historical centre of Thessaloniki. Aris is considered up to now and despite the tough economic situations that, beyond others, lead the football club in the 2nd division this past year, one of the most successful teams in Greece, as it counts numerous titles in every sport (4th in that list , coming after Olimpiakos , Panathinaikos and AEK).
Aris was the first team to be established in Thessaloniki after the city’s liberation (1912), something that correlated the club with terms such as freedom and revolution. Among the founders and first supporters of Aris were greek, jewish and armenian people, making the club the most multicultural one of the time (note: Thessaloniki was also a multicultural city back then , something like Izmir in Turkey). Aris was also the first club in Greece to bring foreign athletes and organize friendly games with foreign teams, showing in that way its opposition to racist beliefs.
Aris was always one of the most prominent clubs in Greece, but managed to make a worldwide known name too , due to the success of the basketball team in the 1980’s (Nick Galis , who is still considered the best European basketball player ever , played for Aris) and the big wins of the football team in Europe.
The supporters of the club are famous all around the world for the atmosphere they create in both home and away games, even when the team is facing difficult moments. Just some examples of this are the games against Boca Juniors, Panathinaikos in the final of OAKA, Atletico Madrid in Spain, derbies against Paok etc. (be sure to check out the basketball game between Aris and Paok in Nick Gallis Hall).
Aris’ fans have some prominent friendships too, with supporters of clubs such as Borussia Dortmund, Boca Juniors and Saint-Étienne. There are also some good relationships with fans of Middlesborough, Sankt Pauli and Athletic Bilbao.
Politically , the vast majority of Aris’ fans are leftists and mostly Anarchists. Super3 which is the main fan club of Aris has an official placement against racism, fascism and neonazis. Gate3 where the super3 members gather is always full of antifascist and anticapitalist symbols. The second largest fan club which is called Ierolohites, has also a clear antifascist status, with banners against racism and nazis in their own gate. There are also smaller fan clubs always with antifascist beliefs such as Aris fans Munchen and many radicals, who do not belong in any group but prefer to self – organize. Currently, Aris is the only team in Greece (from the so called big ones) that has not even one racist – oriented fan club and Harilaou (or Kleanthis Vikelidis) is also the only stadium that even hanging a greek flag is prohibited. There are also some chants written outside the stadium which say that fascists are not allowed.
Apart from racism Aris fans had always been taking a stand in every politically important circumstance. For instance there were banners in memory of Carlo Giuliani (who was killed by cops in Italy), Berkin Elvan (the 15 years old boy, killed by cops in Turkey), Alexandros Grigoropoulos (15 years aldo also, killed in Greece by cops) etc. In Vikelidis, there have also been hanged banners in solidarity with armed rebels arrested or simple anarchists and demonstrators caught in protests.
Obviously, there is a big hatred between Aris fans and cops as it happens with all real supporters. In Harilaou there is often hanged an “A.C.A.B“ banner , while there are frequently riots outside the stadium and wherever we travel. Furthermore, Super3 has been emphasizing the need of a common front against cops and the state in general showing its solidarity to every fan who is unfairly arrested.
Another thing that needs to be mentioned is the adoption of a little boy from Afghanistan that Super3 made, by paying his every day necessaries, through the programs of Action Aid.
Moreover Aris fans have taken a stand in favour of the independence of the basque country and catalunya too , accussing the spanish state for harassment. Of course there are also many acts inside and outside Harilaou in solidarity with Palestine and against the zionist state of Israel.
In 2013 after the murder of Pavlos Fissas (Killah P) by a Golden Dawn member Aris fans hanged a banner that was giving a clear message to the neonazi party “Football will be played with the heads of the nazis“. A month later in Patras a city of the greek South and before a basketball game Aris fans made an intervention outside the local officed of Golden Dawn, stealing also their flag.
In June 2014, the strong canadian company named “El Dorado Gold“ expressed their interest in investing money on Aris. Despite the serious problems that the club was (and it still is) facing , the fans decided to reject the offer and oblige the owners to deny the bid. The reason behind this rejection was the destruction of the environment in Chalkidiki, as a result of the company’s business in the area. The company had previously invested in the volleyball club of Paok, inciting huge oppositions.
With this mentioned, it should also be told that Aris was the first team in Greece to apply a completely democratic way of taking decisions regarding the club. The fans had the opportunity to vote for the owner the wanted but unfortunately this model was not going to work due to the greed that the owners showed.
Nowdays Aris is facing extremely difficult moments, because of the lack of funds. The football team was relegated to the 2nd division last year, while the basketball team is not allowed to make transfers with foreign players, due to debts. However, the fans are still proud and determined to make the club strong again as it always used to be.
Finally, I would personally like to salute all the russian antifascistas and send them my deepest regards.
Hasta la muerte comrades! ARIS EST. 1914