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)Sweden 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 The English FA had withdrawn from FIFA (together with the junior partners from Scotland, Ireland and Wales) after their demand that the federations of Germany, Austria and Hungary be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]

Since Belgium had also received a first round forfeit after Poland failed to arrive, the tournament to determine the silver and bronze medalists had the beaten quarter-finalists (Italy, Norway, Spain and Sweden) facing each other to determine who would play the Netherlands, now assured of a medal.

The tournament ended with Spain winning the silver medal match, while the Netherlands won 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



16 teams entered the competition, which was organized on a knockout basis, but Switzerland withdrew before 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, and hosts 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, made it to the final, beating Yugoslavia (who also played their first ever international match in the competition), Norway, and France, while Belgium, coming off their first round forfeit, beat Spain and the Netherlands to qualify for the final.

The final was abandoned in the 40th minute and Belgium were awarded the gold medal after Czechoslovakia walked off to protest the performance of the English referee, John Lewis and his linesmen. [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 have played off against the three teams beaten in the main tournament by gold medalists Belgium, with the winners playing off for second and third, but Czechoslovakia had been disqualified, and Belgium had received a first round forfeit after Poland failed to arrive.

Therefore, Spain advanced straight to a silver medal match against the Netherlands, who had been beaten by Belgium in their semi-final. Spain won 3-1.


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)

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 matchEdit

Belgian player 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 2020 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 Belgium leading 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] but their protest was dismissed, and the Czech team were disqualified from the tournament.

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

Silver and bronze medal tournamentEdit

After the disqualification of Czechoslovakia, a match between Netherlands and France was planned to award silver and bronze medals, but France forfeited because most of its players were already returning home. It was then set up a knock-out tournament between the four teams eliminated during quarter-finals, the winner of which would have contested the Netherlands for second place.

First roundEdit

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 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)

Friendly matchEdit

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

Final rankingEdit

Final positions:[2][8]

Rank Team Pld W D L GF GA GD Pts
    Belgium 3 3 0 0 8 1 +7 6
    Spain 5 4 0 1 8 3 +5 8
    Netherlands 4 2 0 2 9 10 -1 4
Eliminated in playoffs
4   Italy 4 2 0 2 5 7 -2 4
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
Eliminated in first round
8   Egypt 1 0 0 1 1 2 -1 0
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


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 2x10 minutes, meaning this match lasted 140 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 2008-11-22 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". 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