Football at the 1956 Summer Olympics
|Dates||November 24-December 8|
|Champions||Soviet Union (1st title)|
|Goals scored||53 (4.42 per match)|
|Attendance||194,333 (16,194 per match)|
|Top scorer(s)||4 - Milanov
The 1956 Olympic Games football tournament had just eleven competing nations, due to cancellations. It was an undistinguished tournament that featured mis-matches and walkovers.
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 very 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.
- "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."
Despite Barr's opinion though, some of the more acclaimed players selected in the 1956 Australian squad included the following Football Hall of Fame inductees:
Medal of Excellence → Frank Loughran
|Olympic Park Stadium
|Melbourne Cricket Ground
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, showing fighting spirit by scoring in the 89th minute, and hitting the post in the waning seconds. 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 Kozmich Ivanov, father to the famous Russian referee Valentin Valentinovich Ivanov.
The Great Britain football team (like Germany of the time a team, which only appeared in Olympics as united) eliminated Thailand 9-0, and Australia Japan 2-0.
November 24, 1956
November 26, 1956
|Twissell 12' 20'
Lewis 21' (p.k.)
Laybourne 30' 82' 85'
Bromilow 75' 78'
November 27, 1956
|McMillan 26' (p.k.)
Melbourne Cricket Ground
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.
The second round saw two Eastern Bloc teams decisively beating proud Western nations. Yugoslavia completely dominated the United States side in their 9-1 rout.
Elsewhere, 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, just as peacefully as Great Britain were bundled out of the tournament.
The Soviets drew their game against Indonesia 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's 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.
November 28, 1956
|Veselinović 10' 84' 90'
Antić 12' 73'
Mujić 16' 35' 56'
November 29, 1956
December 1, 1956
|Salnikov 17' 59'
November 30, 1956
Kolev 40' 85'
Milanov 45' 75' 80'
December 1, 1956
|Morrow 17' 41'||Report||D'Souza 9' 33' 50'
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.
December 4, 1956
|Papec 54' 65'
Salam 78' (o.g.)
December 5, 1956
|Soviet Union||2–1 (a.e.t.)||Bulgaria|
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 altar; losing this time to a second half Anatoli Ilyin goal that presented the Soviet Union with a Gold medal and their first international title.
Bulgaria took Bronze defeating India 3-0.
Bronze Medal match
December 7, 1956
|Diev 37' 60'
Gold Medal match
December 8, 1956
|Soviet Union||2 (AET)|
The score of Bulgaria's first round victory over Egypt is unknown, and any goals scored in that match are not reflected in this table.
- 4 goals
- 3 goals
- 2 goals
- 1 goal
- Frank Loughran (Australia)
- Graham McMillan (Australia)
- Georgi Dimitrov (Bulgaria)
- Ernst-Günter Habig (Germany)
- Laurie Topp (Great Britain)
- Krishna Kittu (India)
- Anatoli Ilyin (Soviet Union)
- Anatoli Isayev (Soviet Union)
- Valentin Kozmich Ivanov (Soviet Union)
- Igor Netto (Soviet Union)
- Boris Tatushin (Soviet Union)
- Al Zerhusen (United States)
- Own goals
- Muhamed Abdus Salam (India; playing against Yugoslavia)