Football at the 1956 Summer Olympics

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Football at the 1956 Summer Olympics
Tournament details
Host country Australia
Dates November 24-December 8
Teams 11
Final positions
Champions  Soviet Union (1st title)
Runners-up  Yugoslavia
Third place  Bulgaria
Tournament statistics
Matches played 12
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.[1]

Of the Australian squad, 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."

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:

Hall of Champions → Bob Bignall and Ron Lord

Medal of Excellence → Frank Loughran

Award of Distinction → William Henderson, Graham McMillan, Bruce Morrow and Cliff Sander


Melbourne Melbourne
Olympic Park Stadium
Capacity: 18,500
Melbourne Cricket Ground
Capacity: '100, 024
Mbnolypkst.jpg Mcg melb.JPG

Final tournament[edit]

First round[edit]

German players Rudi Hoffmann (left) and Max Schwall (right)

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.

India  w/o 1  Hungary



Indonesia  w/o 1  South Vietnam



China PR  2  Turkey



Bulgaria  w/o 1  Egypt



United States  3  Yugoslavia



November 24, 1956
Soviet Union  2–1  Germany
Isayev Goal 23'
Streltsov Goal 86'
Report Habig Goal 89'
Melbourne Cricket Ground, Melbourne
Attendance: 12,000
Referee: R.H. Mann (GBR)

November 26, 1956
Great Britain  9–0  Thailand
Twissell Goal 12' Goal 20'
Lewis Goal 21' (p.k.)
Laybourne Goal 30' Goal 82' Goal 85'
Bromilow Goal 75' Goal 78'
Topp Goal 90'
Melbourne Cricket Ground, Melbourne

Referee: Latyshev (USSR)

Attendance: 3,693

November 27, 1956
Australia  2–0  Japan
McMillan Goal 26' (p.k.)
Loughran Goal 61'
Melbourne Cricket Ground

Referee: R.Lund (NZL)

Attendance: 3,568

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.[1]

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
Yugoslavia  9–1  United States
Veselinović Goal 10' Goal 84' Goal 90'
Antić Goal 12' Goal 73'
Mujić Goal 16' Goal 35' Goal 56'
Papec Goal 20'
Report Zerhusen Goal 42'
Olympic Park Stadium, Melbourne
Attendance: 5,292
Referee: Swain (NZL)

November 29, 1956
Soviet Union  0–0  Indonesia
Olympic Park Stadium, Melbourne
Attendance: 3,228
Referee: Takenokoshi (JPN)

December 1, 1956
Soviet Union  4–0  Indonesia
Salnikov Goal 17' Goal 59'
Ivanov Goal 19'
Netto Goal 43'
Olympic Park Stadium, Melbourne
Attendance: 6,735
Referee: Lund (NZL)

November 30, 1956
Bulgaria  6–1  Great Britain
Dimitrov Goal 6'
Kolev Goal 40' Goal 85'
Milanov Goal 45' Goal 75' Goal 80'
Report Lewis Goal 30'
Melbourne Cricket Ground, Melbourne
Attendance: 6,748
Referee: Wright (AUS)

December 1, 1956
Australia  2–4  India
Morrow Goal 17' Goal 41' Report D'Souza Goal 9' Goal 33' Goal 50'
Kittu Goal 80'
Melbourne Cricket Ground, Melbourne
Attendance: 7,413
Referee: C.H. Wensveen (IDN)


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
Yugoslavia  4–1  India
Papec Goal 54' Goal 65'
Veselinović Goal 57'
Salam Goal 78' (o.g.)
Report D'Souza Goal 52'
Melbourne Cricket Ground, Melbourne

Referee: Latyshev (USSR)

Attendance: 16,626

December 5, 1956
Soviet Union  2–1 (a.e.t.)  Bulgaria
Streltsov Goal 112'
Tatushin Goal 116'
Report Kolev Goal 95'
Olympic Park Stadium, Melbourne

Referee: R.H. Mann (GBR)

Attendance: 21,079


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[edit]

December 7, 1956
Bulgaria  3–0  India
Diev Goal 37' Goal 60'
Milanov Goal 42'
Melbourne Cricket Ground, Melbourne

Referee: Latyshev (USSR)

Attendance: 21,236

Gold Medal match[edit]

December 8, 1956
Soviet Union  1–0  Yugoslavia
Ilyin Goal 48' Report
Melbourne Cricket Ground, Melbourne

Referee: R. Wright (AUS)
Linesmen: R. H. Mann (GBR) & M. Swain (NZL)

Attendance: 86,716


  First Round Quarterfinals Semifinals Finals
    Yugoslavia 9  
      United States 1  
    Yugoslavia 4  
    India 1  
  Japan 0  
  Australia 2  
    Australia 2
      India 4  
  India w/o
    Yugoslavia 0
    Soviet Union 1
  South Vietnam  
  Indonesia w/o  
    Indonesia 0-0
      Soviet Union 0-4  
  Soviet Union 2
  Germany 1  
    Soviet Union 2 (AET)
    Bulgaria 1  
  Bulgaria unk  
  Egypt unk  
    Bulgaria 6
      Great Britain 1  
  Great Britain 9
  Thailand 0  


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
Own goals


Gold Silver Bronze
 Soviet Union  Yugoslavia  Bulgaria
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
Vladimir Belyayev
Anatoli Porkhunov
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
Yordan Yosifov
Iliya Kirchev

See also[edit]


External links[edit]