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Olympic of Elis

About Olympic of Elis

The home jersey worn by Olympic of Elis during its Hellenic League of Champions campaign.

In Ancient Greece, watercooler conversations often centred around one debate: Olympics, or football? Some asserted the game could stand alone; but others, like the Elians, argued that the two are inseparable.

They had a strong case, too. The best players in the Ancient beautiful game were all Olympic athletes. The game’s laws were first codified, and continually reviewed, in Olympia. The organizers and judges of the Olympics, the hellanodikai, were also the best referees in football, and formed around 90% of HLC referees. (They were also famously un-bribeable, save the polemic ‘hand of Zeus’ incident in the HLC final of 506 BC).

Olympic of Elis was unsurprisingly a heavyweight when it came to the sport. The club won 9 HLCs in its long history and over 30 Pelopponesian trophies. Maybe this is unsurprising as athletic culture permeated the region, and the club famously drew a fair share of its best players from stadion race winners: Antimachus, Aeschines, Polynices, or Agis are legendary names that filled its pacey team-sheet.

Football's obsession with pace and power started here.