Association football at the 1956 Summer Olympics

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Association 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
Fourth place  India
Tournament statistics
Matches played 12
Goals scored 53 (4.42 per match)
Attendance 194,333 (16,194 per match)
Top scorer(s) India Neville D'Souza
Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia Todor Veselinović
Bulgaria Dimitar Milanov
(4 goals each)[1]

The association football tournament at the 1956 Summer Olympics was won by the Soviet Union.


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.[2]

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."

Some of the 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


Olympic Park Stadium Melbourne Cricket Ground
Capacity: 40,000 Capacity: 104,000
Olympicparkmel.JPG VFL Grand Final in 1945 at the MCG.jpg

Final tournament

First round

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. 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 Ivanov.

The Great Britain football team eliminated Thailand 9-0, and Australia defeated 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

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

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'
Attendance: 3,693
Referee: Latyshev (USSR)

Australia  2–0  Japan
McMillan Goal 26' (p.k.)
Loughran Goal 61'
Attendance: 3,568
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.


Yugoslavia defeated the United States 9-1.

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.[3]

The Soviets drew their game against Indonesia 0-0 and won 4-0 in the replay.

The Indians defeated 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. The Indonesian referee disallowed two first half goals. Bob Bignall the Australian captain was unable to get an intelligible reply out of him during the break.

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'
Attendance: 5,292
Referee: Swain (NZL)

Soviet Union  0–0  Indonesia
Attendance: 3,228
Referee: Takenokoshi (JPN)
Soviet Union  4–0  Indonesia
Salnikov Goal 17' Goal 59'
Ivanov Goal 19'
Netto Goal 43'
Attendance: 6,735
Referee: Lund (NZL)

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

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


Yugoslavia defeated India 4-1. It would be their third consecutive Olympic final.

The Soviets defeated Bulgaria 2-1. Bulgaria scored first and conceded two goals in the last six minutes of the game.

Yugoslavia  4–1  India
Papec Goal 54' Goal 65'
Veselinović Goal 57'
Salam Goal 78' (o.g.)
Report D'Souza Goal 52'
Attendance: 16,626
Referee: Latyshev (USSR)

Soviet Union  2–1 (a.e.t.)  Bulgaria
Streltsov Goal 112'
Tatushin Goal 116'
Report Kolev Goal 95'
Attendance: 21,079
Referee: R.H. Mann (GBR)


Yugoslavia were playing Red Star Belgrade's Dragoslav Šekularac in this tournament; he would feature in the 1960 UEFA European Football Championship final. They lost 1-0 to a second half Anatoli Ilyin goal. This was the first international tournament win for the Soviet Union.

Bulgaria took Bronze defeating India 3-0.

Bronze Medal match

Bulgaria  3–0  India
Diev Goal 37' Goal 60'
Milanov Goal 42'
Attendance: 21,236
Referee: Latyshev (USSR)

Gold Medal match

Soviet Union  1–0  Yugoslavia
Ilyin Goal 48' Report
Attendance: 86,716
Referee: R. Wright (AUS)
Linesmen: R. H. Mann (GBR) & M. Swain (NZL)


  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 w/o  
   Bulgaria 6
     Great Britain 1  
 Great Britain 9
 Thailand 0  


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 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
Pavel Vladimirov
Iliya Kirchev

See also


  1. ^ Olympic Football Tournament Melbourne 1956 - Top goalscoring players.
  2. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2005-11-03. Retrieved 2006-11-03. 
  3. ^ "News .....taken from "The Socceroos and their Opponents" by Laurie Schwab". Australian Online Soccer Museum. Australian Soccer Preservation Society. Archived from the original on 27 August 2006. 

External links

  • Olympic Football Tournament Melbourne 1956,
  • RSSSF Archive
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