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) for the first time.
|Dates||28 August – 5 September 1920|
|Teams||15 (from 2 confederations)|
|Venue(s)||4 (in 3 host cities)|
|Champions||Belgium (1st title)|
|Goals scored||70 (4.12 per match)|
|Attendance||150,600 (8,859 per match)|
|Top scorer(s)|| Herbert Carlsson |
As these were the first Olympics after World War I, Central Power 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 The English FA had withdrawn from FIFA (together with the associations of the other UK nations, Scotland, Ireland and Wales) after their demand that the federations of Germany, Austria and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 from 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 Czechoslovaks walked off to protest the officiating, and were subsequently disqualified from the tournament.
Since Belgium had received a first-round bye, 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.
|Olympisch Stadion||Stadion Broodstraat|
|Capacity: 35,000||Capacity: Not known|
|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 France were given a first-round forfeit.
As such, 12 teams entered the first round, with the winners joining host Belgium in the quarter-finals.
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, after their first-round bye, beat Spain and the Netherlands to qualify for the final.
Under the original format, Spain would have played off against the 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 bye.
Therefore, Spain advanced straight to the silver medal match against the Netherlands, who had been beaten by Belgium in their semi-final. Spain won 3–1.
This match was not part of the tournament, but was organised 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.
|Czechoslovakia||7–0||Kingdom of SCS|
|Vanik 20', 46', 79'
Janda 34', 50', 75'
|Gundersen 13', 51'
|J. Bulder 30'
Groosjohan 47', 85'
|Olsson 4', 79'
Karlsson 15', 20', 21', 51', 85'
|Groosjohan 10', 57'
J. Bulder 44', 88' (pen.)
De Natris 115'
|Report||Karlsson 16', 32'
Janda 17', 66', 77'
|Report||Brezzi 33' (pen.)|
|Coppée 11', 52', 55'||Report||Arrate 62' (pen.)|
|Mazal 18', 75', 87'
Van Hege 55'
Gold medal matchEdit
The final was highly controversial, and is the only time as of 2021 that an international final has been abandoned. Belgium were awarded the gold medal by default after Czechoslovakia walked off the field in the 39th minute (with Belgium leading 2-0) to protest the officiating after Czechoslovak left-back Karel Steiner was ejected for assaulting Robert Coppée.
The Czechoslovaks were also 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 Czechoslovaks (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 Czechoslovaks immediately protested the result of the final, [note 1] but their protest was dismissed, and the Czechoslovak team was disqualified from the tournament.
|Coppée 6' (pen.)
Silver medal tournamentEdit
The original format had a knockout tournament between the four teams eliminated during the quarter-finals, with the winner of that tournament playing off against the teams beaten in the main tournament by gold medalists Belgium, and the winners of these matches playing off for silver and bronze medals.
However, since Czechoslovakia had been disqualified and Belgium had received a first-round bye, the third round was scratched and Spain automatically advanced to the silver and bronze medal match against the Netherlands.
|First round||Second round||Silver/Bronze medal match|
|Italy||2–1[note 2] (a.e.t.)||Norway|
|Sesúmaga 43', 72'||Report|
Silver/Bronze medal matchEdit
|4||Italy||4||2||0||2||5||7||−2||4||Eliminated in playoffs|
|8||Egypt||1||0||0||1||1||2||−1||0||Eliminated in first round|
|12||Kingdom of SCS||1||0||0||1||0||7||−7||0|
- 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 (Kingdom of SCS)
- Jovan Ružić (Kingdom of SCS)
- 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.
- 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.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Association football at the 1920 Summer Olympics.|
- 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 22 November 2008 at the Wayback Machine on MarcOlympics.org
- "Football at the 1920 Antwerp Summer Games". Sports Reference. Archived from the original on 17 April 2020. 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 Olympic Football Tournament on Football Mundial.com