When the train finally made it to the Irini stop, almost everyone on the train rushed off of the train and down the stairs out of the station. I saw small carts of souvlaki and others with PAO souvenirs. I was with five of my classmates and we headed over to the ticket booth. Of course, there was no line, but a giant swarm of people pushing and shoving to get up to the window. The booth appeared to have around 10 windows, but of course only 1 or two were open. Randomly one would open and the crowd would shift, but it would close after only one or two sales. It was quite a struggle just to get the tickets. Luckily, the tickets were not nearly as expensive as professional sports teams in America. We also each purchased a PAO scarf from a vendor to show our support for the home team. As I walked into the Olympic complex, I was in awe of the beauty of this structure; with its white metal curves and modern architecture, it stands in contrast to other buildings I am used to in the Athenian concrete jungle.
Once we took our seats in the stadium, I was immediately drawn towards the packed section behind the goal. It was filled with Panathenaikos fans, and as it would turn out, also the liveliest section of the stadium. They held enormous signs, displayed four massive flags throughout the game, and set off multiple flares (kind of like fireworks) during the game. They always started the songs and constantly stood and danced. The entire section seemed to pulse. That is not to say the fans in my section were not into the game- they joined in with many of the songs, shouted profanities, and showed the offensive open hand gesture.
The game reminded me of American sports games I have been to (at Fenway or TD Garden); I even had a hot dog during half time! Major differences between American sports games and this one are that in Greece, flares and smoking are allowed in the stadium. The game was a ton of fun. Panathenaikos beat OFI 3-1 and the atmosphere was wonderful. I highly recommend attending a soccer game.