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Association football at the 1956 Summer Olympics

The association football tournament at the 1956 Summer Olympics was won by the Soviet Union.[2]

Association football at the 1956 Summer Olympics
Tournament details
Host countryAustralia
DatesNovember 24 – December 8
Final positions
Champions Soviet Union (1st title)
Runners-up Yugoslavia
Third place Bulgaria
Fourth place India
Tournament statistics
Matches played12
Goals scored53 (4.42 per match)
Attendance194,333 (16,194 per match)
Top scorer(s)India Neville D'Souza
Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia Todor Veselinović
Bulgaria Dimitar Milanov
(4 goals each)[1]



Following five withdrawals, the tournament featured three Eastern bloc teams and four from Asia in a tournament that matched professionals against the amateurs required in Olympics. The other sides included in the draw were from the United States, Germany (West and East united), Great Britain and the hosts Australia, featuring in their first Olympic football tournament.

The ability to develop an "amateur" side around two or three long-term internationals could only be achieved by use of the tendency of Eastern bloc sides to provide state-funding for their athletes. This compared most favourably with the Australians who did not pay their footballers during the tournament; player income was supported by community fund-raising.[3]

Of the Australian squad, in Melbourne's The Age newspaper, Alex Barr wrote:

"The original [Australian] squad was not the best and four weeks of intensive training did nothing to improve the standard. Australian soccer has lost a wonderful chance to gain world prominence and the game has suffered a body blow."

Some of the players selected in the 1956 Australian squad included the following Football Hall of Fame inductees:

Hall of Champions → Bob Bignall and Ron Lord

Medal of Excellence → Frank Loughran

Award of Distinction → William Henderson, Graham McMillan, Bruce Morrow and Cliff Sander


Final tournamentEdit

First roundEdit

German players Rudi Hoffmann (left) and Max Schwall (right)

Five teams withdrew (Egypt, China, Turkey, South Vietnam, and the football team of Hungary, a nation that was cheered in other Olympic contests due to the ongoing suppression by Soviet troops), which left only three games to play in the first round.

The tournament got under way with the match Soviet Union against Germany. Germany appeared in Olympics as United Team of Germany including East German athletes. The West German Amateur team (de:Deutsche Fußballnationalmannschaft der Amateure) had been selected to represent Germany. It was not the favourite against the Soviets as even the proper semi-pro German squad, reigning 1954 FIFA World Cup champions, had lost two games against them in 1955. Coached by Sepp Herberger, the German side was defeated 1–2 by the eventual Gold medal winners. Just as the 1928 Summer Olympics had introduced the world to the future World Champions, Uruguay, so here the Soviets fielded the makings of a side that four years later would win the 1960 UEFA European Football Championship in France. In goal they played Lev Yashin. Their side was led by Igor Netto, their left-half; the forward-line led by Torpedo Moscow's Valentin Ivanov. This was only time when India shines in any international football tournament.

The Great Britain football team eliminated Thailand 9–0, and Australia defeated Japan 2–0.

India  w/o 1  Hungary

Bulgaria  w/o 1  Egypt

Soviet Union  2–1  Germany
Isayev   23'
Streltsov   86'
Report Habig   89'
Attendance: 12,000
Referee: R.H. Mann (GBR)

Great Britain  9–0  Thailand
Twissell   12'   20'
Lewis   21' (p.k.)
Laybourne   30'   82'   85'
Bromilow   75'   78'
Topp   90'
Attendance: 3,693
Referee: Latyshev (USSR)

Australia  2–0  Japan
McMillan   26' (p.k.)
Loughran   61'
Attendance: 3,568
Referee: R.Lund (NZL)

1 Egypt, South Vietnam, and Hungary withdrew.
2 Both teams withdrew; the match was scratched.
3 As five of the original sixteen teams withdrew, the match was postponed to the quarterfinals.


Yugoslavia defeated the United States 9–1.

Great Britain lost 6–1 to Bulgaria. Halfway through the game, ratings from HMS Newcastle vaulted the fence and exhorted the team to show more grit. They were peacefully escorted off the field.[4]

The Soviets drew their game against Indonesia 0–0 and won 4–0 in the replay.

The Indians defeated Australia 4–2 with a hat trick by centre forward Neville D’Souza – the first by an Asian in the Olympics. Prior to the game there had been debate, once again, as to whether the Indians should be shod. Sir Stanley Rous respected their decision either way, although in the end, the Indians decided to wear boots. The Indonesian referee disallowed two first half goals. Bob Bignall the Australian captain was unable to get an intelligible reply out of him during the break.

Yugoslavia  9–1  United States
Veselinović   10'   84'   90'
Antić   12'   73'
Mujić   16'   35'   56'
Papec   20'
Report Zerhusen   42'
Attendance: 5,292
Referee: Swain (NZL)

Soviet Union  0–0 (a.e.t.)  Indonesia
Attendance: 3,228
Referee: Takenokoshi (JPN)
Soviet Union  4–0  Indonesia
Salnikov   17'   59'
Ivanov   19'
Netto   43'
Attendance: 6,735
Referee: Lund (NZL)

Bulgaria  6–1  Great Britain
Dimitrov   6'
Kolev   40'   85'
Milanov   45'   75'   80'
Report Lewis   30'
Attendance: 6,748
Referee: Wright (AUS)

Australia  2–4  India
Morrow   17'   41' Report D'Souza   9'   33'   50'
Kittu   80'
Attendance: 7,413
Referee: C.H. Wensveen (IDN)


Yugoslavia defeated India 4–1. It would be their third consecutive Olympic final.

The Soviets defeated Bulgaria 2–1. Bulgaria scored first and conceded two goals in the last six minutes of the game.

Yugoslavia  4–1  India
Papec   54'   65'
Veselinović   57'
Salam   78' (o.g.)
Report D'Souza   52'
Attendance: 16,626
Referee: Latyshev (USSR)

Soviet Union  2–1 (a.e.t.)  Bulgaria
Streltsov   112'
Tatushin   116'
Report Kolev   95'
Attendance: 21,079
Referee: R.H. Mann (GBR)


Yugoslavia were playing Red Star Belgrade's Dragoslav Šekularac in this tournament; he would feature in the 1960 UEFA European Football Championship final. They lost 1–0 to a second half Anatoli Ilyin goal. This was the first international tournament win for the Soviet Union.

Bulgaria took Bronze defeating India 3–0.

Bronze Medal matchEdit

Bulgaria  3–0  India
Diev   37'   60'
Milanov   42'
Attendance: 21,236
Referee: Latyshev (USSR)

Gold Medal matchEdit

Soviet Union  1–0  Yugoslavia
Ilyin   48' Report
Attendance: 86,716
Referee: R. Wright (AUS)
Linesmen: R. H. Mann (GBR) & M. Swain (NZL)


  First Round Quarterfinals Semifinals Finals
    Yugoslavia 9  
      United States 1  
    Yugoslavia 4  
    India 1  
  Japan 0  
  Australia 2  
    Australia 2
      India 4  
  India w/o
    Yugoslavia 0
    Soviet Union 1
  South Vietnam  
  Indonesia w/o  
    Indonesia 0
      Soviet Union 4²  
  Soviet Union 2
  Germany 1  
    Soviet Union 2 (AET)
    Bulgaria 1  
  Bulgaria w/o  
    Bulgaria 6
      Great Britain 1  
  Great Britain 9
  Thailand 0  


4 goals
3 goals
2 goals
1 goal
Own goals


See alsoEdit


  1. ^ Olympic Football Tournament Melbourne 1956 – Top goalscoring players.
  2. ^ "Football at the 1956 Melbourne Summer Games". Sports Reference. Retrieved 13 October 2018.
  3. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2005-11-03. Retrieved 2006-11-03.
  4. ^ "News .....taken from "The Socceroos and their Opponents" by Laurie Schwab". Australian Online Soccer Museum. Australian Soccer Preservation Society. Archived from the original on 27 August 2006.

External linksEdit