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.
|Dates||28 August 1920 – |
5 September 1920
|Venue(s)||1 (in 1 host city)|
|Football at the|
1920 Summer Olympics
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 The English FA had withdrawn from FIFA (together with the junior partners from Scotland, Ireland and Wales) after their demand that the federations of Germany, Austria and Hungary be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.
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.
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.
|Olympisch Stadion||Stadion Broodstraat|
|Capacity: 35,000||Capacity: Not known|
|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. 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.
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.
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.
|Netherlands ||5–4 (a.e.t.)|
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.
Silver and bronze medal tournament
|Italy ||2–1 |
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
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.
|Eliminated in playoff|
|Eliminated in first round|
- 7 goals
Herbert Carlsson (Sweden)
- 6 goals
Antonín Janda (Czechoslovakia)
- 5 goals
Ber Groosjohan (Netherlands)
- 4 goals
- 3 goals
- 2 goals
- 1 goal
Mathieu Bragard (Belgium) Louis Van Hege (Belgium) Josef Sedláček (Czechoslovakia) Karel Steiner (Czechoslovakia) Hassan Allouba (Egypt) Hussein Hegazi (Egypt) Zaki Osman (Egypt) Henri Bard (France) Paul Nicolas (France) Fred Nicholas (Great Britain) Emilio Badini (Italy) Adolfo Baloncieri (Italy) Enrico Sardi (Italy) Jan de Natris (Netherlands) Arne Andersen (Norway) Einar Wilhelms (Norway) Domingo Acedo (Spain) Patricio Arabolaza (Spain) Mariano Arrate (Spain) José María Belauste (Spain) Pichichi (Spain) Ragnar Wicksell (Sweden) Artur Dubravčić (Yugoslavia) Jovan Ružić (Yugoslavia)
- 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, but their protest was dismissed, and the team were disqualified from the tournament.
- 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.
- Olympic Football Tournament, Antwerp 1920 - Overview on FIFA.com
- VII. Olympiad Antwerp 1920 Football Tournament by Karel Stokkermans on the RSSSF
- THE VIIth SUMMER GAMES - Football Archived 2008-11-22 at the Wayback Machine on MarcOlympics.org
- "Football at the 1920 Antwerp Summer Games". Sports Reference. Retrieved 1 October 2018.
- World Football Elo Ratings: Biggest Upsets
- "VII. Olympiad Antwerp 1920 Football Tournament". www.rsssf.com. Retrieved 3 August 2013.
- VIIeme Olympiade, Anvers 1920: Official report on LA84 Digital Library Collection
- 1920 Antwerp's Olympic Football Tournament on Football Mundial.com
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