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The 1956 Olympic Games football tournament with just 11 competing nations suffered from cancellations. It was an undistinguished tournament that featured mis-matches and walkovers.


Following 5 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 Statesmarker, Germanymarker (West and East united), Great Britainmarker (rather than as separate nations as in FIFA football) and the hosts Australia, featuring in their very first Olympic football tournament.

The ability to develop an "amateur" side around 2 or 3 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. [353505]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."



First round

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

The tournament got under way with Australia's 2-0 win over Japanmarker in front of just 3,500 people. In goal the Aussies were fielding Ron Lord, a later Soccer Australia Hall of Famer. They went ahead thanks to a 26th minute penalty before Frank Loughran's winner half-way through the second half settled matters.

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, showing fighting spirit by scoring in the 86th minute, and hitting the post in the waning seconds. Just as the 1928 Summer Olympics had introduced the world to the future World Champions, Uruguaymarker, so here the Soviets fielded the makings of a side that four years later would win the 1960 UEFA European Football Championship in Francemarker. 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 Kozmich Ivanov, father to the famous Russian referee Valentin Valentinovich Ivanov.

The Great Britain football team, like the Germany of the time a team which only appeared in Olympics as united, eliminated Thailand 9-1.


The second round saw two Eastern Bloc teams decisively beating pround Western nations. Yugoslavia completely dominated the United Statesmarker side in their 9-1 rout.

Elsewhere, Great Britain lost 6-1 to Bulgaria. Half way 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, just as peacefully as Great Britain were bundled out of the tournament.[353506]

The Soviets drew their game against Indonesiamarker 0-0 and were fortunate to get away with a 4-0 victory in the replay.

The Indians went one better defeating 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. During the game, Australia's own feet were tied by incomprehensible decisions by the Indonesian referee, refusing two first half goals. Bob Bignall the Australian captain unable to get an intelligible reply out of him during the break. FIFA'smarker decision to oblige all match officials to speak English lay far into the future, with the 1966 World Cup final serving as example for the pressing need.


D'Souza's would add another in the semi-final to put India one-up against Yugoslavia; another goalless first-half, another European team struggling against underestimated opponents. This time the Yugoslavs proved too strong in the second half; 4-1 winners. It would be their third consecutive Olympic final.

The Soviets defeated Bulgaria 2-1 after a thriller in the overtime. Although Bulgaria scored first and were the more aggressive team on the field, they allowed two goals in the last six minutes of the game.


Yugoslavia were playing Red Star Belgrade's Dragoslav Šekularac in this tournament; he too would feature in the 1960 UEFA European Football Championship final. Once again, however, they would come unstuck at the alter; losing this time to a second half Anatoli Ilyin goal that presented the Soviet Unionmarker with a Gold medal and their first international title.

Bulgaria took Bronze defeating India 3-0.

Bronze medal match

Goal medal match


Gold Silver Bronze
Lev Yashin
Nikolai Tishchenko
Mikhail Ogonkov
Aleksei Paramonov
Anatoli Bashashkin
Igor Netto
Boris Tatushin
Anatoli Isayev
Eduard Streltsov
Valentin Kozmich Ivanov
Vladimir Ryzhkin
Boris Kuznetsov
Iosif Betsa
Sergei Salnikov
Boris Razinsky
Anatoli Maslenkin
Anatoli Ilyin
Nikita Simonyan
Yuriy Belaev
Anatoliy Porhunov

Sava Antić
Ibrahim Biogradlić
Mladen Koščak
Dobroslav Krstić
Luka Liposinović
Muhamed Mujić
Zlatko Papec
Petar Radenković
Nikola Radović
Ivan Santek
Dragoslav Šekularac
Ljubiša Spajić
Todor Veselinović
Blagoja Vidinić

Stefan Bozhkov
Todor Diev
Georgi Dimitrov
Milcho Goranov
Ivan Petkov Kolev
Nikola Kovachev
Manol Manolov
Dimitar Milanov
Georgi Naydenov
Panayot Panayotov
Kiril Rakarov
Gavril Stoyanov
Krum Yanev
Yosif Yosifov

Iliya Kirchev


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