Derby of the Eternal EnemiesADDPMP187
The Derby of the eternal rivals (Greek: Ντέρμπι των αιωνίων αντιπάλων), also called Mother of all battles (Greek: Μητέρα των μαχών), is a football local derby in the Athens urban area between the most successful clubs of Greece, Olympiacos and Panathinaikos. The rivalry between the clubs and their fans is intense, thus this derby has always been a classic for the Greek capital, as well as the whole of Greece, the most prestigious in the country. The derby is traditionally included among the world’s top 10 greatest football derbies by the international media, along with rivalries such as Real Madrid–Barcelona, Boca Juniors–River Plate, Rangers-Celtic and Liverpool-Manchester United. American network CNN has ranked the Olympiacos – Panathinaikos derby among the ten greatest football rivalries of all-time. In October 2014, BBC named the Olympiacos – Panathinaikos derby as “Europe’s maddest derby” and in September 2019, Daily Mirror ranked the derby of the eternal enemies as the fifth most important derby in the world.
The rivalry between the two top Greek clubs can be traced back to some social, cultural and regional differences. Panathinaikos, founded in 1908, comes from the centre of Athens and was considered the classic representative of the high class and old Athenian society of the Greek capital. On the other hand, Olympiacos was founded in 1925 and comes from Piraeus, the port city just on the outskirts of Athens, thus attracting supporters from the surrounding working class areas. Both cities have played a major role in Greek history since classical antiquity; Athens was regarded as the cradle of the ancient Greek civilization, taking advantage of Piraeus’ strategical potential and forming a unified region with the latter. During the 20th century, Athens experienced a demographic explosion and territorial expansion coming to enclose all its suburbs, including Piraeus, in a large urban area.
These class differences between the people in the homelands of the two clubs offered further reasons for the animosity between their fans. Olympiacos’ early success provided a way for the people of Piraeus to express their contempt for the wealthier classes, by which Panathinaikos was heavily supported. Furthermore, Olympiacos attracted fans from all over Greece who believed themselves to be victims of social and political unfairness. However, this kind of clash was much more pronounced in the past, as the class differences between the fanbases have faded out and the social gap that once separated the two sides has closed over the years. Nowadays, both clubs boast fanbases that represent all the social classes.