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 expanded to 15 countries, including a non-European nation (Egypt) for the first time.[1]

1920 Men's Olympic Football Tournament
Olympic rings without rims.svg
Tournament details
Host countryBelgium
Dates28 August – 5 September 1920
Teams15 (from 2 confederations)
Venue(s)4 (in 3 host cities)
Final positions
Champions Belgium (1st title)
Runners-up Spain
Third place Netherlands
Fourth place Italy
Tournament statistics
Matches played17
Goals scored70 (4.12 per match)
Attendance150,600 (8,859 per match)
Top scorer(s)Sweden Herbert Carlsson
(7 goals)

As these were the first Olympics after World War I, the football teams representing the Central Powers were not invited (Germany, Austria, Hungary, Bulgaria and Turkey). The English Football Association had also withdrawn from FIFA, together with the associations of the other UK Home Nations (Scotland, Ireland and Wales), after their demands that the federations of Germany, Austria and Hungary be expelled from that organisation were rejected. FIFA nevertheless accepted the entry of a team from Great Britain (representing the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland), ruling that countries entering the Olympic Games in other sports should not be excluded from the football tournament.[2]

Britain had won the 1908 and 1912 gold medals, but were beaten by Norway 3-1 in the first round: the Norway national football team thus celebrated one of their iconic victories, alongside 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.

Hosts Belgium won the gold medal, with the final being abandoned in the 39th minute with Belgium leading 2-0 after Czechoslovakia - who participated in an international competition for the first time - walked off to protest the officiating: the Czechslovaks were subsequently ejected from the competition.[1]

As a result of Czechoslovakia's ejection and Belgium having received a first-round bye, the beaten quarter-finalists (Italy, Norway, Spain and Sweden) faced each other to determine who would play the Netherlands (who were beaten in their semifinal by Belgium), who were now assured of a medal.

The tournament ended with Belgium winning the gold medal, with Spain winning the silver and the Netherlands winning the bronze.[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



15 teams entered the competition, which was organized on a knockout basis, but Switzerland withdrew on the morning before the first round due to internal dissent, meaning their opponent, France, were awarded a first-round 2–0 victory.

As such, 12 teams entered the first round, with the winners joining France and host Belgium in the quarter-finals.

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, made it to the final, beating Kingdom of SCS (who also played their first ever international match in the competition), Norway, and France, while Belgium, after their first-round bye, beat Spain and the Netherlands to qualify for the final.

The final was abandoned in the 39th minute and Belgium were awarded the gold medal after Czechoslovakia walked off to protest the officiating of the English referee, John Lewis, and his linesmen.[6]

A form of the Bergvall System[7] was used to determine the silver and bronze medals: 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 have played off against the teams beaten in the main tournament by gold medalists Belgium, with the winners of these matches playing off for silver and bronze medals.

However, Czechoslovakia had been ejected from the competition, and Belgium had received a first-round bye: therefore, the third round was scratched, and Spain advanced to the silver and bronze medal match against the Netherlands, who had been beaten by Belgium in their semi-final. Spain won the match 3–1.

Exhibition matchEdit

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

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


Original bracketEdit

First round Quarter-finals Semi-finals Final
  Belgium 3
  Spain 1
  Spain 1
  Denmark 0
  Belgium 3
  Netherlands 0
  Sweden 9
  Greece 0
  Sweden 4
  Netherlands (a.e.t.) 5
  Luxembourg 0
  Netherlands 3
  Belgium 2
  Czechoslovakia 0
  France 2
  Switzerland 0
  France 3
  Italy 1
  Italy 2
  Egypt 1
  France 1
  Czechoslovakia 4
  Czechoslovakia 7
  Kingdom of SCS 0
  Czechoslovakia 4
  Norway 0
  Great Britain 1
  Norway 3

First roundEdit

Czechoslovakia  7–0  Kingdom of SCS
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)

France  2–0

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

Bye: Belgium  


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 matchEdit

Belgian striker Robert Coppée opens the scoring of the final, with a penalty kick against goalkeeper Rudolf Klapka

The final was highly controversial, and is the only time as of 2022 that an international final has been abandoned: Belgium were awarded the gold medal after Czechoslovakia walked off the pitch in the 39th minute with Belgium leading 2-0 to protest the officiating after Czechoslovak left-back Karel Steiner was ejected for assaulting Belgian striker Robert Coppée.

The Czechoslovaks were also deeply dissatisfied with the performance of the 65-year-old English referee, John Lewis, as well as that of the English linesmen, Charles Wreford-Brown and Arthur Knight, who had allowed a contentious second Belgian goal by Henri Larnoe in the 30th minute.

Lewis, Wreford-Brown and Knight had officiated the Belgian semi-final victory over the Netherlands two days earlier, a match observed by the Czechoslovaks (it had taken place on the same day and in the same stadium as their own semi-final victory against France).

The Czechoslovaks immediately protested the result of the final,[note 1] but their protest was dismissed, and the Czechoslovak team was immediately ejected from the competition.

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

Silver and bronze medal tournamentEdit

Repechage bracketEdit

The original format was based on a form of the Bergvall System: after a knockout tournament between the four teams beaten in the quarter-finals, the winner of that tournament would play off against the teams beaten in the main tournament by the gold medalists (Belgium), with the winners of these matches playing off for silver and bronze medals.

However, Czechoslovakia had been ejected from the competition, and Belgium had received a first-round bye: therefore, the third round was scratched, and Spain (the winner of the beaten quarter-finalists tournament) advanced to the silver and bronze medal match against the Netherlands (who had been beaten in the semifinals by gold medalists Belgium).

First roundSecond roundSilver and bronze medal match
QF  Italy (a.e.t.)2
SF  Netherlands1
QF  Norway1
QF  Italy0QF  Spain3
QF  Spain2
QF  Spain2
QF  Sweden1

First roundEdit

Italy  2–1[note 2] (a.e.t.)  Norway
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 roundEdit

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

Silver and bronze medal matchEdit

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

Final rankingEdit

Final positions:[2][8]

Pos Team Pld W D L GF GA GD Pts Result
    Belgium 3 3 0 0 8 1 +7 6
    Spain 5 4 0 1 9 5 +4 8
    Netherlands 4 2 0 2 9 10 −1 4
4   Italy 4 2 0 2 5 7 −2 4 Eliminated in playoffs
5   Sweden 3 1 0 2 14 7 +7 2
6   France 2 1 0 1 4 5 −1 2
7   Norway 3 1 0 2 4 7 −3 2
8   Egypt 1 0 0 1 1 2 −1 0 Eliminated in first round
9   Denmark 1 0 0 1 0 1 −1 0
10   Great Britain 1 0 0 1 1 3 −2 0
11   Luxembourg 1 0 0 1 0 3 −3 0
12   Kingdom of SCS 1 0 0 1 0 7 −7 0
13   Greece 1 0 0 1 0 9 −9 0
DSQ   Czechoslovakia 4 3 0 1 15 3 +12 6 Ejected from competition
Source: FIFA


Hosts and tournament winners Belgium before the final
Team of Spain, silver medalist
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]
  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 2x15 minutes, meaning this match lasted 150 minutes.


  1. ^ a b Olympic Football Tournament, Antwerp 1920 - Overview on
  2. ^ a b c VII. Olympiad Antwerp 1920 Football Tournament by Karel Stokkermans on the RSSSF
  3. ^ THE VIIth SUMMER GAMES - Football Archived 22 November 2008 at the Wayback Machine on
  4. ^ "Football at the 1920 Antwerp Summer Games". Sports Reference. Archived from the original on 17 April 2020. Retrieved 1 October 2018.
  5. ^ World Football Elo Ratings: Biggest Upsets
  6. ^ "VII. Olympiad Antwerp 1920 Football Tournament". RSSSF. Retrieved 3 August 2013.
  7. ^ a b VIIeme Olympiade, Anvers 1920: Official report on LA84 Digital Library Collection
  8. ^ 1920 Antwerp Olympic Football Tournament on Football