PAOK FC presented the new team jersey for the 2020-2021 season and it has a hidden message.
At the bottom of the black and white striped jersey, which will be worn by PAOK players, there is a very special message.
“Hellenism. Hagia Sophia. PAOK. Refugees. Asia Minor. Pontus. Constantinople,” are written on the inside of the new PAOK jersey.
In fact, in view of the upcoming match with Turkish side Beşiktaş, the specific message becomes even more special and is of great importance for the footballers of Thessaloniki.
Turkish social media set alight, with influencers complaining about the embroidery.
PAOK decided to stitch Istanbul, Pontus, Hagia Sophia and Anatolia on their shirts ahead of the Champions League qualifier against Beşiktaş…
It's beyond petty and childish…wonder what @UEFA will have to say about a club mixing nationalism and football in the UCL… https://t.co/5fhJlrGZhB
— Turkish Football (@Turkish_Futbol1) August 19, 2020
President of PAOK, Ivan Savvidis, wrote in his letter to the players of the team, “Politics is different, football is different. But you should remember that in the Beşiktaş match, PAOK represents the whole of Greece. The developments in our days also increase the importance of this match.”
PAOK was established on 20 April 1926 as a club for Greek refugees who fled to Thessaloniki from Constantinople and other areas of what became the Turkish Republic in 1923 in the wake of the Greco-Turkish War (1919–1922) and the Greek Genocide.
The club established by Greek refugees adopted the Double-headed eagle as the club’s emblem to symbolise their Byzantine heritage.
Soviet-born Savvidis, today a billionaire, owns PAOK and is a proud Pontian Greek. On August 10, 2012 he become the owner of PAOK and has helped propel the club to new heights.
Under his ownership, PAOK has won the Super League and the Greek Cup, having previously won both titles decades earlier.
Immediately after PAOK was drawn with Beşiktaş, a number of provocative messages from Turkish social media users flooded the Twitter and Instagram of PAOK.
Specifically, they posted photos of Mustafa Kemal, the founding father of Turkey and main perpetrator of the Greek Genocide, as well as Turkish frigates, as reported by Greek City Times.
The son of Ivan Savvidis went to Instagram to post an image of Winston Churchill, Britain’s Prime Minister during World War II, and his famous quote:
“Hence we will not say that Greeks fight like heroes, but that heroes fight like Greeks.”