Football at the 1920 Summer Olympics

Football was one of the 154 events at the 1920 Summer Olympics, held in Antwerp, Belgium. It was the fifth time association football was on the Olympic schedule. The tournament was expanded to 14 countries, including a non-European nation (Egypt) by the first time.[1]

Football at the 1920 Summer Olympics
Tournament details
Host countryBelgium
Dates28 August 1920 (1920-08-28)
5 September 1920 (1920-09-05)
Venue(s)1 (in 1 host city)
Final positions
Champions Belgium
Runners-up Spain
Third place Netherlands
Fourth place Italy
Tournament statistics
Matches played17
Top scorer(s) Herbert Carlsson (7 goals)

At the first Olympics after World War I, countries involved in the conflict (Germany, Austria, Hungary, and their allies Bulgaria and Turkey) were not invited. The English FA had withdrawn from FIFA (together with the junior partners from Scotland, Ireland and Wales) after their demand that the federations of Germany, Austria and Hungary be excluded had been rejected. FIFA nevertheless accepted the entry of a Great Britain football team, judging that countries entering the Olympic Games in other sports should not be hindered entering the football tournament.[2]

However, the gold medalists of the previous two Olympic football tournaments would not enjoy their participation long, as they were defeated 1–3 in the first round by Norway, who thus celebrated one of their iconic victories (to be followed by the elimination of Nazi Germany at the 1936 Berlin Olympics, the 1993 win over England in World Cup qualifying, and the 2–1 defeat of reigning world champions Brazil at the 1998 World Cup).

The final (and gold) was won by host Belgium against Czechoslovakia (which participated in an international competition for the first time in their history) after the Czechs walked off to protest the officiating, and were subsequently disqualified from the tournament.[1]

A play-off was necessary to determine the silver medallists. France refused to play because most of their players had returned home. So Italy, Norway, Spain and Sweden played off for the right to meet the Netherlands for second place. Finally Spain won the silver medal, while the Netherlands won the bronze medal.[3][4][2]


Antwerp Antwerp
Olympisch Stadion Stadion Broodstraat
Capacity: 35,000 Capacity: Not known
Ghent Brussels
Jules Ottenstadion Stade Joseph Marien
Capacity: Not known Capacity: Not known



16 teams entered the competition, which was organized on a knockout basis, but Switzerland withdrew after the first round draw had been made, meaning France were given a first-round bye. 14 teams entered the first round, with the winners joining France in the quarter-finals, while Belgium received a first round forfeit after Poland failed to appear.

Norway defeated Great Britain in the first round, considered by Elo as one of the greatest football upsets of all time.[5] Czechoslovakia, participating in their first international tournament, survived to the final, inflicting defeats on Yugoslavia (who also played their first ever international match in the competition), Norway, and France. After the first round forfeit, Belgium beat Spain and the Netherlands on their way to the final.

The final ended with Belgium winning the gold medal by default after Czechoslovakia walked off during the final to protest the performance of the English referee, John Lewis.[6]

A form of the Bergvall System[7] was used to determine second and third places. Firstly, the beaten quarter-finalists played off, and Spain emerged triumphant, overcoming Sweden 2-1 and Italy 2-0.

Under the original format, Spain would then have played off with the three teams beaten in the main tournament by gold medalists Belgium, with the winners playing off for second and third, but since beaten finalists Czechoslovakia had been disqualified from the tournament and Belgium had received a first round forfeit after Poland failed to arrive, Spain advanced straight to a silver medal match against the Netherlands, who were beaten by Belgium in their semi-final. Spain won 3-1.


First round

Czechoslovakia 7–0 Yugoslavia
Vanik  20', 46', 79'
Janda  34', 50', 75'
Sedláček  43'
Attendance: 600
Referee: Raphael Van Praag (BEL)

Spain 1–0 Denmark
Arabolaza  54' Report
Attendance: 3,000
Referee: Willem Eymers (NED)

Italy 2–1 Egypt
Baloncieri  25'
Brezzi  57'
Report Osman  30'
Attendance: 2,000
Referee: Paul Putz (BEL)

Norway 3–1 Great Britain
Gundersen  13', 51'
Wilhelms  63'
Report Nicholas  25'
Attendance: 5,000
Referee: Johannes Mutters (NED)

Netherlands 3–0 Luxembourg
J. Bulder  30'
Groosjohan  47', 85'
Attendance: 3,000
Referee: Georges Hubrecht (BEL)

Sweden 9–0 Greece
Olsson  4', 79'
Karlsson  15', 20', 21', 51', 85'
Wicksell  25'
Dahl  31'
Attendance: 5,000
Referee: Charles Barette (BEL)

Belgium were scheduled to play Poland, but Poland failed to arrive (due to the ongoing Polish–Soviet War); Belgium were awarded a 2-0 victory.

Bye: France


Netherlands 5–4 (a.e.t.) Sweden
Groosjohan  10', 57'
J. Bulder  44', 88' (pen.)
De Natris  115'
Report Karlsson  16', 32'
Olsson  20'
Dahl  72'
Attendance: 5,000
Referee: Josef Fanta (TCH)

Czechoslovakia 4–0 Norway
Vanik  8'
Janda  17', 66', 77'
Attendance: 4,000
Referee: Charles Barette (BEL)

France 3–1 Italy
Boyer  10'
Nicolas  14'
Bard  54'
Report Brezzi  33' (pen.)
Attendance: 10,000
Referee: Henri Christophe (BEL)

Belgium 3–1 Spain
Coppée  11', 52', 55' Report Arrate  62' (pen.)
Attendance: 18,000
Referee: Johannes Mutters (NED)


Czechoslovakia 4–1 France
Mazal  18', 75', 87'
Steiner  70'
Report Boyer  79'
Attendance: 12,000
Referee: Johannes Mutters (NED)

Belgium 3–0 Netherlands
Larnoe  46'
Van Hege  55'
Bragard  85'
Attendance: 22,000
Referee: John Lewis (GBR)

Gold medal match

The final was highly controversial, and is the only time as of 2019 that an international final has been abandoned. Belgium were awarded the gold medal by default after Czechoslovakia walked off the field in the 40th minute to protest the officiating with the score 2-0 after Czech left-back Karel Steiner was ejected for assaulting Robert Coppée.

The Czechs were unhappy with the performance of the 65-year-old English referee, John Lewis, who had already refereed the Belgian semi-final victory over the Netherlands, a match observed by the Czechs (it had taken place on the same day and in the same stadium as their own victory against France), as well as the English linesmen, Charles Wreford-Brown and A. Knight, who had allowed a contentious second Belgian goal in the 30th minute that Henri Larnoe had converted.

The Czechs immediately protested the result of the final[note 1]

Belgium 2–0 Czechoslovakia
Coppée  6' (pen.)
Larnoe  30'
Attendance: 35,000
Referee: John Lewis (GBR)

Silver and bronze medal tournament

First round

Italy 2–1
[note 2] (a.e.t.)
Sardi  46'
Badini  123'
Report Andersen  41'
Attendance: 500
Referee: Louis Fourgous (France)

Spain 2–1 Sweden
Belauste  51'
Acedo  53'
Report Dahl  28'
Attendance: 1,500
Referee: Giovanni Mauro (Italy)

Second round

Spain 2–0 Italy
Sesúmaga  43', 72' Report
Attendance: 10,000
Referee: Paul Putz (Belgium)

Third round

This round was scratched and Spain advanced to the final against the Netherlands (beaten in the semi-finals by Belgium) as Czechoslovakia were disqualified after their walk off during the final, and Belgium had a forfeit in the first round after Poland failed to arrive (due to the ongoing Polish–Soviet War).

Silver and bronze medal match

Spain 3–1 Netherlands
Sesúmaga  7', 35'
Pichichi  72'
Report Groosjohan  68'
Attendance: 14,000
Referee: Paul Putz (Belgium)

Friendly match

This match was not part of the tournament, but was organised after both teams were eliminated. Some sources refer to this as an eighth place match or part of the silver and bronze medal tournament.

Egypt 4–2 Yugoslavia
Abaza  43', ??'
Allouba  ??'
Hegazi  ??'
Report Dubravčić  ??'
Ružić  ??'
Attendance: 500
Referee: Rafael van Praag (NED)

Final ranking

Final positions:[2][8]

Rank Team Pld W D L GF GA GD Pts
 Belgium 330081+76
 Spain 540183+58
 Netherlands 4202910-14
Eliminated in playoff
4  Italy 420257-24
5  Sweden 3102147+72
6  France 210145-12
7  Norway 310247-32
Eliminated in first round
8  Egypt 100012-10
9  Denmark 100001-10
10  Great Britain 100013-20
11  Luxembourg 100003-30
12  Yugoslavia 100007-70
13  Greece 100009-90
14  Czechoslovakia 4301153+126


Gold Silver Bronze

Coach: Raoul Daufresne


Coach: Francisco Bru


Coach: Fred Warburton


7 goals
6 goals
5 goals
4 goals
3 goals
2 goals
1 goal


  1. Their protests, translated from the original French, were as follows:
    1. We were allocated an English linesman, which is in contradiction with the rules which state that each participating nation has the right to one of both linesman. This violation of the rules was prejudicial to us during the game, because the English linesman was not impartial and this is why we seek the cancellation of the match. Immediately after the game we brought this notice to the attention of M. Rodolphe Seeldrayers.
    2. The majority of the decisions of the referee Mr. Lewis were wrong and it was obvious that it gave the public the wrong impression about our game. Also both Belgian goals were the result of incorrect decisions of the referee and we seek a rigorous investigation on that point.
    3. During the match, Belgian soldiers were introduced to the crowd until they circled the pitch and because of their provocative presence our players were unable to play their normal game. As a result of the very regrettable incident at the end of the match when there was a pitch invasion led by the soldiers and our national flag was insulted we will not participate until we have received an apology from the (Belgian) soldiers,[7] but their protest was dismissed, and the team were disqualified from the tournament.
  2. After 120 minutes expired with the score tied at 1-1, both captains and the referee agreed to play a second extra time of 2x10 minutes, meaning this match lasted 140 minutes.


This article is issued from Wikipedia. The text is licensed under Creative Commons - Attribution - Sharealike. Additional terms may apply for the media files.